We continue our Mother’s Day series with Mayor Laura Wheat, mayor of Dallas suburb, Westlake!
There’s something truly special about living in Westlake. This bustling Dallas suburb has, in recent years, seen an influx in luxury homes and custom-built properties, as well as global businesses. Today, Fidelity Investments, CoreLogic and Deloitte all have regional offices in Westlake. Together, this shift—plus the A+ schools in the Carroll Independent School District, Keller Independent School District and Westlake Academy (a K to 12 charter) has drawn tons of families from Dallas and also from well outside of Texas to this fast-growing community.
Sitting at the center of the growth, evolution and acceleration of Westlake, is long-time local and community advocate, Mayor Laura Wheat. A busy mom of four, Mayor Wheat spent time raising her family and growing her securities law career in Dallas before making the leap to Westlake—and she and her crew never looked back.
“We had actually considered a couple of different places, both within the state of Texas and out,” Mayor Wheat explains, “when a friend suggested that we should check out Vaquero in Westlake.” She admits they hadn’t heard of either area at the time but agreed to take a look. “It turned out to be love at first sight,” she recalls. “And then the stars aligned: we purchased a lot in Vaquero within two weeks of our first tour in August. We sold our Dallas home within four weeks and we moved the week before Thanksgiving.”
Now, nearly 15 years later, Mayor Wheat is front-and-center, driving her community forward. After arriving in Westlake, she became heavily involved in Westlake Academy and immediately connected to the people and the community as a whole.
“Westlake is a town and Westlake Academy is a school, where kids can still be kids. I wouldn’t trade our experience here for anything,” she says. We chatted with Mayor Wheat on why her family made the move, what drew her to Westlake and what she’d tell people looking to drive positive social and community change.
1. When did you move to Westlake? Why did you decide to make the move?
“We moved to Westlake in the fall of 2005. After having raised our two oldest children in Dallas, we decided we wanted to try something different for our youngest two. We were looking for something that we believed would have fewer social pressures than what our older children had experienced in Dallas area private schools.”
2. Why did you decide to call Westlake “home?” What was the most important factor in your decision?
“Westlake Academy was absolutely the deciding factor in choosing Westlake. As a municipally-owned International Baccalaureate charter school, it truly offered something different. Before we saw the school in person, I distinctly remember looking at the Academy’s website and thinking that something so unique and so beautiful simply could not be real. But it was, and we have never looked back. Both of our youngest sons have now graduated from the Academy and gone onto college. There is no question that Westlake Academy forever changed their lives and the life of our family as a whole.”
3. How has your community impacted your career, and inspired you?
“When we arrived in Westlake, the greatest area of immediate need seemed to be at Westlake Academy, so I began volunteering with its Foundation Board of Directors. Somehow that service eventually translated into being elected Mayor of the Town of Westlake in 2008. Because the Town owns Westlake Academy, as Mayor I also serve as President of the Westlake Academy Board of Trustees. Without a doubt, it is the best volunteer job I have ever had. I am inspired every day by our residents, our corporate partners, our students, our teachers, our council and our Town staff. I have grown so much as a person and am incredibly grateful that I have been allowed to play a part in the shaping of the amazing community that is Westlake.”
4. What would you tell aspiring politicians looking to launch their political careers?
“That’s a tough one for me to answer because I don’t consider myself to be a politician as the term is currently used. At the local level in small cities and towns like Westlake, I believe that most council members and school board members are true public servants who give selflessly of their time and talent for the greater good. Sadly, those qualities seem to get lost somewhere up the political food chain. Thus, if your readers are truly interested in becoming politicians, I have no good advice. For those who wish to serve their communities through elected office, however, I would recommend getting involved in everything you can. Attend Town council meetings, school board meetings, planning and zoning meetings. Get to know and understand how your city or town works, and look for ways that you can most effectively plug in to make a difference. Then….hang on, because it’s apt to be a wild, yet wonderful ride.”
There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.
Feature Image Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram