Hillsboro mayoral candidates make their case

Hillsboro mayoral candidates Charlotte Kennedy-Takahashi begins her comments at the Tabor College Lifelong Learning forum on Friday while candidate Lou Thurston waits his turn. The forum was moderated by Ron Braun, vice president of advancement at Tabor.<p>CHARLOTTE

KENNEDY-TAKAHASHII’m going to start the story that there were two working girls before World War I and they had gotten degrees at a design school in Chicago. They both got a job in Topeka in a department store. One was a hat creator and the other was a dress creator. They were two sisters, coming together as working girls.

A person named Schaeffler came to Topeka and asked if they would come down to Hillsboro and design dresses and design hats. So they came to Hillsboro just before World War 1. They met two brothers, who were the Granada brothers. The Granada brothers had been here in Hillsboro since the 1870s and built the second house that ever existed in Hillsboro.

The two sisters married the two brothers, and the two brothers built half the buildings on Main Street, including the former bank where Emprise is.

We have lived on Wash­ing­ton Street and also Main Street. On my house, the decoration on the chimney was done by my uncle. So we have really built Hillsboro in the past, and I have a lot to say about rebuilding Hillsboro.

Many of you may know my mother, Mildred Kennedy; she also was Mildred Granada. She went to Hillsboro High, she went to Tabor College and she was also a teacher in the school system. Some of you may have known her in that capacity. She lived here in Hills­boro off and on, going back and forth doing mission work.

For all but 20 years since 1870, we have owned a house in town.We are really Hills­boro and belong in Hillsboro. The name Granada is not a common name in Hillsboro anymore—unfortunately, they had only girls. So the name changed to Kennedy and now to Kennedy-Takahashi.

I made a decision in 1987 that when I wanted to live in the Unites States, I wanted to live in a town where people were friendly and it was a nice community. So my husband and I invested in Hills­boro businesses and we invested in a house here. I really enjoy my home here.

I have had a career overseas. I have dealt with Americans and American businesses overseas, and so I know what’s been going in Hillsboro because every time I came home, my mother informed me what was going on in Hillsboro.

My husband is a Japan­ese citizen and absolutely loves the Hillsboro golf course, and he loves gardening. He enjoys being here and enjoys America and Hillsboro very much, and the warmth that is in Hillsboro. The people who are running the golf course are doing a really nice job, so he appreciates that.

We enjoy gardening, we enjoy travel and we enjoy going out with friends and dining together and having deep intimate conversations. Those are our kind of hobbies.

That’s a little bit about my background. I belong to Hillsboro, obviously. I’ve gone to Hillsboro High School; I’m a graduate of Tabor College. I also taught at Tabor two different times. I taught history one time and business the other time.

I belong to Hillsboro, but I also have something very different in that I have an outside perspective. I see things not only how Hillsboro did it in the past, but I see how Hillsboro could use outside resources to improve its situation.


I was raised in Hillsboro; my family moved to Hillsboro in 1968. My dad at that time was working at Hesston Corporation and was looking for some acreage. He grew up on a farm over in Chase County, and was looking for something that was rural in terms of setting. And so we have 40 ares three miles south and a quarter mile south of Hillsboro on the west side of the road.

We lived there until I was a freshman in high school. Then my parents moved to town and onto Adams Street.

My folks then started a business in Hillsboro. Many of you are aware of that. It was in town for about 18 years. It started out there on the end of Main Street where Jesse Wiebe is running the (Hillsboro State) bank.

I graduated from Hills­boro High in 1976, and went to Emporia State University. I graduated from there in 1980 with a degree in public administration. During that time, in the course of my studies I did an internship with the city of Emporia. I worked in the city manager’s office for a very experienced city manager by the name of Virgil Basgall, He was a grizzled veteran, shall we say, as a city manager.

While I was in college, I was dating my best friend and the love of my life, Lori, who is here.We got married while I was still in college and we’ve been married now for about 39 years. I couldn’t do it without her.

After graduation I went to work for the city of Emporia, and worked in the city manager’s office. I helped put the budget together for the city of Emporia, which is a pretty onerous process. I did a lot of different things and learned a lot.

About at that time, my folks called. Actually, they had one of their employees call so as to not put too much pressure on me to come back and join the family business. So, in 1981 we did that.

Later we moved down to Texas, managing our fiberglass tank manufacturing operation in Big Springs, Texas, for three years, before moving back to Hillsboro.

Hillsboro has always had a strong pull for us. This is where my wife and her family are from, and it’s the place where we wanted to raise our children.

We raised two daughters here in Hillsboro and now we’re in the process of raising grandkids in Hillsboro. We have three of our grandchildren who live with us. I have two other grandchildren who live just north of town with my daughter Staci Silhan, who is raising two lovely kids. They moved back to Hillsboro, too, because they wanted to be part of this community where she grew up.

I’m a member of the Hillsboro (Mennonite Brethren) Church. I’ve had various leadership roles in the church, including being pastoral ministries chair and serving on the stewardship board.

Probably more important in terms of city activity, I’ve been a member of the Hills­boro Development Corp. the last 14 years.

During that time I helped create and coordinate the Marion County Youth Entre­pre­neurship Challenge, which we’ve operated in conjunction with Marion the past few years. We engage all high schools in Marion County to be part of a “Shark Tank” type of operation, where they bring a business and present it. in a competition format.

I’ve been in sales and management most of my 36-year career. I worked for and sold to Fortune 500 companies. I am currently working for a company called Grace Label out of Iowa. I operate here on Main Street.

I have managed sales teams and has traveled extensively across the United States and Canada. That also gives me the kind of perspective, being from Hillsboro but also seeing other places and how things are done elsewhere around this country.

Next week: Why do you want to be mayor? What do you see the role of the mayor to be?

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