Why do you want
to be mayor?
CHARLOTTE KENNEDY-TAKAHASHI: I think it’s very simple. My family’s given a lot to this town in many capacities, and I’m committed to contributing and that’s been true my entire career. I believe I can do that in a unique way in Hillsboro and look at solutions to solving problems.
I have found it very invigorating to help people in our community and I have spent 30 years doing that in another context.
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LOU THURSTON: I’m running for mayor because I believe Hillsboro needs committed leadership with a clear vision. This is a critical time in our history. As I stated earlier, I’ve lived in the Hillsboro community for most of my life, and I’ve raised my family here. I’m at a point in my career, at age 59, where I have flexibility in my schedule and I feel like it’s time for me to contribute as well, using my education and career skills to serve the community that I love in a bigger way.
For the past 14 years, I’ve served at Hillsboro as a member of the Hillsboro Development Corp., and during that 14 years we’ve seen a lot of positive changes in the community.
Also during that time I’ve had a chance to watch Delores Dalke very closely and work with her. I see what can be done when you are able to bring the first fruits together to achieve a common goal. As she is stepping back from that role, I believe it’s time for my generation to step forward and continue those efforts. I’m looking forward to the opportunities.
As one of my favorite authors, Simon Sinek, said in his book Together is Better: “Leadership is not a rank or position to be attained, leadership is a service we give.”
What do you see the role of mayor to be?
LOU THURSTON: The mayor’s role is multi-faceted. The mayor is the CEO of the city of Hillsboro. What’s more, the mayor is a cheerleader, encourager, a visionary, an enabler, a coach, a mentor, and most importantly a servant.
It’s the mayor’s role to lead from the front and take the heat when the bullets are flying, but is also important to know when to step back. The mayor should listen more than talk. In sales, we say God gave you two ears and one mouth and you should use them in that proportion. People want and need to be heard. You can’t hear them when you’re talking. This is the key to effective communication.
The mayor’s role is to bring out the best in our city and our citizens, tapping the shoulders of those who have talents to benefit Hillsboro boards and encourage them to serve in a key role.
Most of all, it is to be a servant. As Nelson Mandella said, “A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
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CHARLOTTE KENNEDY-TAKAHASHI: Well, I come with a different point of view. I have been elected at least seven times to be the head of a community elsewhere. So I try to look at the role functionally. I try to remember what Hillsboro’s like, my experience in Hillsboro and some of the challenges I have had leading a community of some 10,000 members.
First of all, my role as an executive was to enable residents to participate and contribute to the community. It’s very important to identify talent and then get that talent working. That is probably my greatest achievement being the executive of an organization.
Also, I think it’s very important that the mayor has vision for the city into the future. Right now, it’s a vision for how downtown is going to be built, and our vision for how downtown is going to be rebuilt, or what we will do with downtown.
Another thing I experienced was that I represented that community to many, many international entities and I was the face of the community and went all over the country and the United States representing that organization. I really appreciated very much that opportunity to meet people all over.
I am extremely talented and good at representing the interests of those I represented for over 20 years in various capacities.
Another thing is, we had a nuclear disaster (in Japan). I was the executive officer of the organization and their members were just absolutely panicking and going crazy. And so our revenues went down 65 percent because half of the Americans escaped to the United States and didn’t want to be where the disaster was.
I had managed this, so I know how important it is to be prepared for disaster. I provided leadership to prevent our establishment from being brought down by an earthquake. We were not physically damaged, but we were emotionally and financially damaged because of the nuclear issue.
I think preparing for disaster, and when it happens, a mayor has to be really solid, has to be really fair and has to really work with a lot of people who are enduring disaster.
Last, very technically, the mayor provides counsel—and we’ll talk later about how to do that—and also negotiate conflicts. I have a long history of dealing with conflict and dealing as someone who has a corporation with 70 employees. I had to deal with conflict within that context and within the organization that I contributed to and was involved in.
How will you build a healthy coalition between the city council, city administrator and citizens?
CHARLOTTE KENNEDY-TAKAHASHI: I think the best way to show that is to give an example. When we had the nuclear diaster, 65 percent—about $30 million in revenues—went down. We had to deal with financials, we were supposed to be paying bonuses to employees. So, as a result of this our board basically said we’re in a tough time, we aren’t giving any bonuses. The general manager came to me and said, “Well, I accept the decision, but I’m worried about morale in the future because this a tough time and a little of that (compensation) would be useful.”
So I went back to the board and said, “Look, I think we have an ethical issue. What we should do is we should at least pay a percentage of this—we just didn’t have the funds. No one was spending money, everyone was panicking.
So a decision was made. I went to some of the members and I said what should we do and got the banking committee to bring forth some funds, and we asked for donations and were able to pay 20 percent of the bonuses of our employees. The result of that is that even today we have fantastic morale in our company. The employees thanked me that in the very depths of depression they received 20 percent of their bonuses.
I’ve worked in all aspects of the board, all aspects of the members, all aspects with the general manager and he gave me the authority to decided to do it once we had funds available.
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LOU THURSTON: A healthy coalition starts with healthy relationships. A healthy relationship is based on the cornerstone of trust. People won’t want to work with you if they don’t trust you. If you want others to trust you, you have to trust them first.
I believe strongly in the innate goodness of people. I believe people want to be treated with respect and dignity. When people feel cared for, they will return that care. When people are cared for, they feel safe. In creating a safe environment, people feel free to express themselves, to share their God-given talents and abilities, to pull together as a team. That’s when a coalition is built.
As mayor, it would be my job to see that citizens be able to express their concerns to city government without fear, and to trust the city council, the city administrator and the employees to carry out their jobs to the best of their abilities.
But when adjustments or changes need to be made, to communicate those in a way that doesn’t tear down, but builds up.