Our pick for mayor

Hillsboro voters will need to choose between two mayoral candidates with strong credentials in the Nov. 7 local election. Both Lou Thurston and Charlotte Kennedy Takahashi have long ties to the community. Both graduated from Hillsboro High School, both have extensive experience in business and managing people, both are articulate and both have vision and ideas for a better, growing Hillsboro.

Earlier this fall, the Free Press committed significant editorial space over four issues (Sept. 20 through Oct. 11) to publish verbatim the questions and answers that were addressed during the first mayoral forum sponsored by the Tabor College Lifelong Learning program Sept. 15. We did so because we felt the interaction revealed very different candidate profiles.

Kennedy Takahashi has used her corporate career in Japan as a cornerstone of her campaign, making frequent references to her accomplishments there, including the start of five businesses. During those years, she maintained the family house in Hillsboro as her U.S. residence.

Thurston’s family moved to the area in 1968; his parents established a manufacturing business in the community. Except for his time at college and a three-year stint in Texas when the family business moved there, Thurston has been a full-time resident of Hills­boro.

That is not an insignificant difference between these two candidates, and it’s a key reason why the Free Press is endorsing Thurston for the office of mayor. For us, the difference between them is not their residential longevity per se, but about building a living resume of service by participating in the fabric of the community that comes with understanding the ethos of local leadership.

It is our understanding that running for mayor is Kennedy Takahashi’s first initiative in public service in Hillsboro. We understand how her dual-residence status has limited her opportunities to make an impact in her hometown, but the issue for us is more than bullet-point accomplishments on a corporate resume. It’s an issue of relating to the community over time in a way that reveals a person’s perspective, character and credibility. Kennedy Taka­hashi may know a lot about Hillsboro, but does Hillsboro truly know much about her?

Thurston, meanwhile, has been living here for almost all of his adult life. He has been involved in various civic circles, including 14 years with the Hills­boro Develop­ment Corp. He has seen Hillsboro achieve and he has seen Hillsboro struggle. He understands how the community works, how it communicates, how it works together to achieve progress.

Frankly, we don’t know how Kennedy Taka­hashi’s corporate leadership experience “fits” a small rural community like this one.

We believe Thurston understands the leadership model for small-town progress. He has witnessed and experienced it, year in and year out. As he said at the candidate forum: “Leader­ship is not a rank or position to be attained, leadership is a service we give.”

Kennedy Takahashi has an opportunity to contribute to this town in the years ahead, and we look forward to that. However, we believe stepping into the top leadership role in the city without a solid resume of local collaboration and teamwork is not in the best interest of Hills­boro’s immediate future.

We believe Lou Thurston, by his words and his actions, has earned our support and your vote. —DR