Mitchell is on a mission.
Mitchell Whitley, a native of Greensboro, N.C., a graduate of Samford University, and an Eagle Scout, has set a unique goal: to personally meet every mayor in his home state.
There are 551 of them.
Whitley says it’s because he wants to know what issues really affect the residents of North Carolina. He hopes to eventually publish a book documenting the experience and use the knowledge to unify people from every community.
The project is called Mitchell’s Mayors.
“It is actually quite simple: non-partisanship,” Whitley says in a statement on his website. “Local elections are almost always conducted with no political ID attached to names; instead, candidates and the subsequent winners are based around character, morals, physical interactions and so many other personal aspects.”
Whitley says the project is helping him refine the leadership skills he first learned in Scouting.
“It’s helped me to continue to be a well-rounded leader for those around me because I’m an Eagle Scout, and that’s another aspect that’s helped me to be a good leader. I wanted to get that next level of experience, and listening and learning about municipal work helped me grow even more.”
Working for the weekends
On weekdays, Whitley works for myfutureNC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the educational opportunities for North Carolinians.
On the weekends, he travels with his father across the state, meeting one mayor here and another mayor there. He’s paying for the project out of his own pocket.
“Interviewing the North Carolina mayors means I can truly understand what problems all people in our state face, not just issues focused around specifically red or blue,” Whitley says.
The project started in late 2021 and isn’t even halfway complete yet, but Whitley and his dad aren’t slowing down.
“For somebody to come and listen and learn to the mayors and say I’m not here to politic, I’m not here to ask for money,” he told The Carolina Journal. “I just want to hear your story and hear about your town, and that means a lot to people.”
Meeting some fascinating folks
Among the highlights of Whitley’s experience so far:
- In the town of Atkinson, he and his dad drove the car for the mayor and the mayor’s wife for their community Christmas parade.
- In St. James, he learned that the mayor’s father was one of the workers who developed the material that covered the plutonium that made up the world’s first atomic bomb.
- In Littleton, he heard all about the mayor’s business — The Cryptozoology & Paranormal Museum, which includes alleged video footage of Bigfoot.
- In Monroe, he sat in a space capsule once used by NASA astronaut and Silver Buffalo winner John Glenn.
When he’s done, Whitley says he hopes to use his knowledge and experience to improve the lives of all the citizens of North Carolina. Whether that’s by running for local office or impacting people’s lives in another way, well, let’s just say he’s still thinking that through.
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