The city’s new mayor is looking forward to new ideas and new opportunities as she — the first female mayor of Southlake — begins her term.
“I don’t run the meeting the same way and I don’t have the same personality [as previous mayors],” Laura Hill said after her first meeting as mayor.
Hill was tested in her first meeting, which ran until nearly 1 a.m. on May 19 after dozens of residents spoke against a controversial neighborhood zoning change proposal.
“I think it was the perfect storm,” she said. “I was probably challenged more in my first meeting than most.”
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However, she thinks there are several redeeming outcomes from the long meeting.
“People got to see who I am,” she said. “A lot of citizens were there and they got to see how I am under pressure.”
Hill sits confidently in the mayor’s seat with a small smile as she listens, but she will use her “very dry sense of humor” and blunt approach to keep things moving along.
And she enjoyed using her gavel at her first meeting, joking that she might take it home.
“I think I’ve got to show residents that I can command the room when it’s necessary, but I’m not going to take myself too seriously,” Hill said. “We’re not going for cheering, booing or snarky comments. Not going to happen.”
Hill is the first female mayor of Southlake, a title she says she’s surprised to have, but happy to hold.
“I think I have an opportunity to set a really good example, especially for young girls,” she said. “I think in a community where you have so many successful men and women, I think it is special and neat for it to be run by a woman.”
Hill, owner of Downey Publishing, said her business experience will help her bring new ideas to local government.
“I’ll be willing to try new things and do things differently,” she said.
Even after the long, sometimes emotional meeting last week, Hill called it a “breeze compared to campaigning.”
“I’m very glad [the campaign] is over with,” she said. “A resounding win means a lot to me. I made a commitment to run a very positive campaign, and I knew that was a risk ... but people really wanted to talk about the issues and the future of the city.”
Hill, who was a Council member, said the biggest issue now — and has been since she moved to Southlake in the mid-1990s, is development.
“Everyone has fought for years to keep Southlake special,” she said, and as the city approaches being built out, “we want to get the best product that fits with where we want to be.”
She also said that, among other goals, she’d like to see the city’s relationship with Carroll ISD, “already strong,” to “become even better, and to try things we’ve never tried before.” And she thinks she has the right group to do it with.
“I have the best Council,” she said. “You can’t help but be excited about the caliber of the Council members we have. They will be very instrumental in making my plan work.”
All of that has Hill looking forward to a bright future for Southlake.
“I’m ready to rock and roll.”
Mark David Smith, 817-390-7808