How Our Mayors Manage More Than Just Local Politics

How Our Mayors Manage More Than Just Local Politics

Mayors Pam Hemminger and Lydia Lavelle talk politics, their roles as female leaders and how their collaboration benefits their work

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Lydia Lavelle & Pam Hemminger.
Lydia Lavelle & Pam Hemminger.

Mayor Hemminger and her husband, Brad, are 30-year residents and have raised four children in Chapel Hill. She’s been an active community volunteer, having served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Board of Education and on the Board of County Commissioners.

Born in Ohio, Mayor Lavelle worked in parks and recreation before attending law school at N.C. Central University. After graduation, she clerked for a judge on the N.C. Court of Appeals and then spent many years in private practice with former Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy. She’s now an assistant law professor at Central, focusing on sexual identity and the law, and state and local governmental law. She lives in Fox Meadow with her wife, photographer Alicia Stemper, their children, Riley and Avery, and their cat, Candy, who is as sweet as her name.


Pam

THE HATEFUL HB2

“This was purely an attack on a growing number of people in our communities that the state is frightened of. Our state is changing, and that scares some people and makes others (like me) know that we are evolving toward being more diverse, accepting of differences and ultimately stronger.”

HER MAYORAL MANTRA

“Breathe. Do the best you can do to really listen, gather information to make informed decisions and know that you will not please all the people all the time. Citizens want a leader who can validate their concerns.”

ON WORKING WITH MAYOR LAVELLE

“We try to talk often, see each other at events and alert each other to upcoming issues. We reach out when needed and support each other when needed. Mayor Lavelle has been a great mentor in helping me understand issues and get acquainted with the past history of our collective communities. I know I could call her anytime!”


Lydia

THE HATEFUL HB2

“HB2 is a mean-spirited bill. Part of it is directed specifically at a minority group – our transgender community – and the rest of it takes away protections against not just the LGBT community, but other groups as well. You have to ask the question: Why would the legislature want to make it harder for gay people, women and African-Americans to seek legal recourse? There is no acceptable answer. The overreach of HB2 is extraordinary, and it illustrates the narrow-mindedness of our current legislature.”

ON CARRBORO’S FEMALE LEADERSHIP (INCLUDING FOUR FEMALE MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN)

“An elected official brings their unique life experience to the position, informed by situations they have encountered throughout their lifetime. Boards ebb and flow with demographic representation, and it is exciting to see women being fairly represented (at least locally) – after all, we are half of the population! Other municipalities are not as fortunate. Our elected boards are strengthened when we have representation that reflects the makeup of our residents. This leads to more thoughtful and reasoned decision-making. We need to have all voices at the table.”

HER ADVICE FOR MAYOR HEMMINGER

“The job is hard, but the opportunities to contribute and lead are rewarding – and sometimes appear in unexpected places. Like me, I imagine you will find talking to a second-grader about how they, too, can someday be mayor just as rewarding as talking to Governor McCrory about policy affecting our towns.”