Ask Jasmine Gore to tell you about Hopewell, population 22,000, and you’ll hear about the city’s rich history as one of the most important sites in the Civil War.
“It’s kind of an old town feel here, but it’s still a small city,” she says. “That’s why it can be hard to change people’s mind-set.”
That’s a less than oblique reference to her campaign for an open City Council seat last November. As a 20-something going up against connected and well-funded opponents, Gore used social media and a strong résumé in ways few people expected. Highlighting her service on several city boards, dual bachelor’s degrees and legislative experience as an intern proved enough to win over voters.
Almost a year into her first term as councilor for Ward 4 and vice mayor, Gore says her first priority is developing a strategic plan for the city. A Town Hall meeting seeking residents’ input was the easy part. Getting her colleagues on board with moving forward on it has proven more challenging.
“For a long time, the communication has been demolished,” Gore says. “Citizens don’t really trust local government; they don’t want to participate. We need short-term goals that we know are obtainable.”
That could be why Gore, who works as a technologist at a genetic sequencing lab by day, lists youth involvement in government as another priority while she continues adjusting to the realpolitik of the, well, old-timers.
“Kids are so much smarter,” she says. “They have a voice and they have ideas. They can get stuff done.”