When outgoing Mayor Laura Hill was first elected to Southlake City Council in 2004 after a seat unexpectedly opened, she had only six weeks to sell her platform to the community. Since then, she said she has not looked back.

It took another 10 years before she decided to run for mayor.

“It's interesting. I didn't come up the traditional way,” Hill said. “Believe it or not, the people that were on [City] Council back in the late '90s refused to put me on a board or commission ... because I was too anti-development. I think that's kind of funny.”

In 2015, she became the city’s first female mayor. She said she never felt any sort of pressure as a result of her title.

“I called myself the ‘mom mayor’ because that's what everyone knew me as. ... They knew me from the [parent-teacher organization] and from the volunteer organizations. And they didn't know me as anything except that, so it was pretty cool to be the one that's kind of set the standard,” she said.

Hill said her election as mayor was the moment she knew public service was the path for her. She said she wasted no time contributing to the city of Southlake’s growth into the suburb it is today, bringing in economic investments and working with city staff and council members on planning ahead for the future.

“In order to have an economic engine, you need to have spokes to the wheel that keep the thing turning,” she said.

Her proudest achievement, she said, has been setting a standard for the level of communication between the city and the community.

“We have set an example for cities throughout the metroplex,” Hill said. “Communication isn't just about throwing a bunch of information at the wall and hoping people catch some of it. It's teaching your citizens that you're always going to be there to answer their questions and that there's always a place to get the facts when you have a concern.”

The COVID-19 pandemic came during Hill’s last year in office, affecting families, local businesses and taking a toll on community spirit, she said.

“I couldn't stop it. I couldn't do a lot to fix it. I mean, we tried to do everything we could do, of course, but it was bigger than all of us,” Hill said.

With her last day as mayor May 11, Hill said she looks forward to seeing the new council work together to help the community heal from the turbulent events of 2020, which she said were exasperated by the pandemic.

"A lot of it goes back to our inability to be together in the same room and to talk,” she said.

Hill, who reached her term limit, will be succeeded by John Huffman, who has served as deputy mayor pro tem and as a council member for Place 5. Huffman won the mayor's race with 70% of the votes in the May 1 election.

“It’s a fresh start,” Hill said. “It's time for our community to stop talking about who wins and who loses and talk about how does Southlake win."