For Statesboro native Paulette Chavers, it only took volunteering a couple of times to help her realize that she wanted to run for office. She’s now one of three history-making women serving on Statesboro’s City Council — Chavers serves District 2, while Venus Mack-Hall and Shari Barr serve Districts 3 and 5, respectively. The three are not only the first women to serve on district seats on the council, but they also hold the majority, as the other two members are male.
Chavers says she volunteered on a couple of campaigns, and saw how laws were created, as well as the roles that lawmakers have on both local and congressional levels. Seeing that change was needed in her own district, she chose to run herself. She plans to run again when her current term is up, and is working to not only bring about change in District 2, but all throughout the city as well.
“One of the most important changes that I sought to implement was bridging the communication gap between constituents and local government,” she said, adding that in her district, one of the biggest needs would be renovating the two major parks, Luetta Moore and Grady Street. Parks create a family environment, she said.
“Implementing programming at these two parks is also a must, which would help decrease potential violence in the area, by providing the youth of District 2 with something to do,” she said. “Another concern that needs to be addressed is helping to decrease the poverty level in the district. To decrease the poverty level, there needs to be more job training, public transportation and more information/training on how to become legitimate business owners.”
Seeing the downtown area prosper is also of utmost importance to Chavers.
“I want to see a vibrant downtown with prosperous businesses. I also want to see equity and equality for all as it pertains to economic resources,” she said.
Chavers is well aware of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local businesses and on the community at large.
“There have been a lot of businesses going out of business nationally and some locally,” she said. “There has also been a lot of racial tension nationally, which has affected us locally. I feel as if we as a community have come together to help with the economic loss. There have been several groups organized to provide resources that the government has failed to provide. Statesboro has partnered with Carver State Bank to provide low interest loans to businesses impacted by the pandemic.”
Chavers also points out that Statesboro has also received donations from individuals in the community to provide grant money to struggling families and business, and that food drives have been held in various locations to help with food shortages seen throughout the community.
“Statesboro has also come together to provide over 40,000 masks to help squash the spread of COVID-19. Churches have come together to provide citywide prayer during this tumultuous time,” she said. “There have been several peaceful protests standing against police brutality and injustices seen in the black community. There has been some kickback from these protests, but mostly there has been positive support.”
Chavers says there is still a lot of work to be done to dismantle the racial divide, as well as police brutality, institutional racism, economic disparities and violence within the city.
“But I am not afraid of the task that has been set before me and I do believe that city of Statesboro will be an ideal place to reside and work, due to the potential cohesiveness presented by leaders of the city and the people that dwell therein,” she said.
Chavers sees the biggest present need, community-wide, is “to stay safe and alive until we get COVID-19 under control.”
“The best way to address this issue is to keep the community informed about the importance of wearing masks in public and the practice of proper hygiene,” she said.
Chavers is excited to serve her district on the City Council, not only because of the change she can help create, but also due to the fact that she is in the female majority on the council.
“Being a woman on City Council brings a different perspective,” she said. “This is a historic moment because there has only been one perspective and that has been that of men. Having women on the council brings more collaboration, understanding and, hopefully, more unity.”
Chavers is the youngest of seven children in her family, and says her parents pride themselves on creating and maintaining a strong family unity. A graduate of Statesboro High School and Georgia Southern University, Chavers holds a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development and a master’s in School Counseling. She is self-employed as a licensed professional counselor, with partnerships with Road to Success Counseling and Refocus Counseling and Consulting.
She enjoys watching television, traveling and reading in her spare time, and is very active in her church.
In the next five to 10 years, Chavers sees herself still working to make sure that the citizens of Statesboro are heard and valued.
“I will always stand in the gap and fight for those who do not have the strength, knowledge or wisdom to fight for themselves,” she said. “I will always be advocating for someone, no matter where my life may lead.”
And no matter what direction that path may take, Chavers says that one thing will never change: her love for her hometown.
“What I love most about Statesboro is the love and the resilience that this city is comprised of. Although there is still a lot of hate, the resounding spirit of love always overcomes it,” she said. “I love my city!”