Southlake’s newly elected mayor John Huffman always had an interest in public service, he said. What started as volunteering quickly became a career when he decided to first run for City Council in 2015.

After two successful, unopposed races, Huffman saw the mayor's seat as the natural next step.

“[My family and I] love Southlake,” the businessman said. “I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to give back in a larger role. I felt well prepared for the role. And I felt like I had a lot to give to the city.”

This election was the first time Huffman faced an opponent. He said the experience taught him to listen to citizens in more intimate and engaging ways.

“It gives you a really up-close view and really good data as to where the community stands on important issues,” Huffman said. “It's a good thing to hear what their views on these issues are because ultimately, we're servants of the people. And it's our job to carry out the will of the folks that put us into office.”

As Huffman embarks on his first term as mayor, his three main campaign promises include tax relief, continued low-density housing and disaster preparedness.

“The lessons we learned during [COVID-19] and 'snowmageddon' are ones that we take with us to the next crisis that we face,” he said.

Huffman took the city's top elective office during a time when the city is trying to move forward from an eventful year that included the coronavirus pandemic and social issues. Although he acknowledges Southlake residents do not always share the same political views, the community has common goals, he said.

“Everyone in town wants safe neighborhoods for their families, fiscal discipline from their elected officials, a welcoming environment in their city, in their community, in their schools, and positivity and hope and transparency from their leaders,” he said. “Those are universal principles. And no matter who you voted for or what political party you're in, that's what you're ultimately looking for from your city officials.”

As things begin to return to somewhat prepandemic normalcy, Huffman said he hopes to reinstate opportunities for the community to build relationships.

“When everyone's just sitting behind a keyboard on social media, it's a lot harder to form real relationships. It's a lot easier to kind of get subsumed into the ups and downs in the drama,” he said.

Huffman said he plans to bring back popular city events in person such as Stars and Stripes, Celebrate Southlake and Oktoberfest.

“When we come together as a community and form those relationships and restart the ones that have maybe been weathered a little bit through COVID-19, that's when we'll see our community spirit come back and be stronger than ever," he said.