I figured I would share a Feature Story Assignment I had to do for a class in college. It was about my role model, my grandmother.
City councilwoman Sarah Mayfield speaks outs on her decision for political involvement.
Mayfield is currently completing her 29th year on the Hartwell City Council in Hartwell, Ga. She has held the position of vice mayor since 2008. Her December 1981 election made her the first black city council member.
But in today’s politics, the ongoing question for political involvement is, why get involved?
In 1977, Mayfield and her husband had currently built their new home in the city on a dirt road and were told their road could not be paved. An unpaved road was not an option for them says Mayfield.
“I was given all kinds of reasons why we could not have the street paved,” Mayfield said. “I attended city council meetings, wrote letters, and made requests, but nothing happened. I finally decided to get it done I would have to be on the inside and learn how to move.”
Mayfield decided she would run for city council and was elected. Two years later, enough funds were made available to have their street paved. The street’s current name is Ricefield Road. Mayfield’s maiden name, Rice, and her husband’s name, Mayfield, were put together to make up the street’s name.
Being on the city council has been quite the experience Mayfield notes. Overcoming the pressures associated with being the only black person on the council, and having difficulties trying to speak out against the establishment of what had always been a white male organization are a couple of the obstacles Mayfield says she has come across, and at times continues to battle with.
“Trying to have my voice heard took lots of effort, time, and prayers for change,” Mayfield said. “I have however been able to succeed over the years and gain my share of respect. I have been able to run every election since my first as unopposed.”
Although it started with a road, Mayfield feels as though her position on the council has made a difference in the community for many others.
Her influence along with other council members has allowed them to change the form of government from administrator to city manager government. They have applied to receive numerous community block grants to build up run down neighborhoods, had homes built in what was an old recreation park, and succeeded in upgrading water lines and sewer lines. The council has also been credited for organizing a downtown development council and many other groups to enhance the historic nature of their city.
With 29 years under her belt, Mayfield says she still has things that she hopes to see done before her term ends.
“Hopefully, we will make insurance benefits available to our retirees until they are 65, should they retire early,” Mayfield said. “And I would like to be around for the completion of our new city hall building.”
Once her aspirations for politics grows thin, Mayfield has also stated that she has hopes that some of her family members may one day get involved in politics and work towards making a difference in the community.
“I don’t have any other aspirations for politics but I have a growing passion now to see more young people get involved,” said Mayfield. “Hopefully, I will retire next year after 30 years of service, and spend a little time teaching others in my family and others in general some of the ups and downs of government.”
But for her, the one message she said she would like to get out to the people is the importance of being involved more than anything.
“It is very important to get out and vote,” Mayfield said. “It is the only way each of us can participate in the operations of government by doing our part to elect good people to run it. Attend meetings, get to know the people who represent you and consider running yourself if you have something you would like to see accomplished. Get involved.”