Meet the Mayor – Merilyn Newell

Mayor Merilyn Newell is Proud of How Far Roxboro Has Come

By Olivia Townsend, RCS Freshman
Photo by Pamela Rodgers

“I believe that the true jewels of Roxboro are the people and the way this community connects together” Mayor Merilyn Newell proudly says of the city she has led since 2011.

Mayor Newell’s love of Roxboro comes from her childhood. She was born in Roxboro and raised on a family farm in Person County. Moving away for college and work, Newell had the opportunity to experience various settings, including the North Carolina mountains, the village of Chapel Hill, and Atlanta, Georgia.

As a teenager, she wanted to become a music major, which led her to study at Appalachian State University in Boone. Soon after transferring to UNC-Chapel Hill, Newell decided that music was not what she wanted to major in after all. Later, getting a job in the UNC Sports Marketing office, she discovered a fulfilling career, and worked at the university for 12 years.

In search of a change, Newell moved back to Atlanta, where she had lived once before, and began working as an executive assistant for the First Union National Bank of Georgia. She eventually made her way back home and took a position at Roxboro Savings Bank, where she has worked for 20 years, at present as a vice president and chief marketing officer.

Along with her professional career and her role as mayor, Newell also has many hobbies and interests that she enjoys. She has been in a number of plays as an actor and singer. Newell has been studying piano since she was five-years-old and continues to play. Along with her various interests, she has her full-time job at Roxboro Savings Bank.

When speaking of her role as mayor, Newell said, “I am most proud of how each and every person that is connected to the City of Roxboro and its operation and its leadership is completely committed to delivering the highest level of service to our citizens for their tax dollars.”

When Newell first became the mayor of Roxboro, there were things that she felt were in need of change. For example, there was a 40 percent poverty rate. Since Newell first became the city’s leader, there has been change for the good. As a result of collaboration between city and county economic development leaders, many more job opportunities have become available here.

“Walking uptown, I feel thankful that I am able to see how far we have come and I can see how far we hope we will go in the future” said Newell.

When asked about volunteerism in Roxboro, Mayor Newell said, “Volunteering has moved this community forward more than anything else.”

In the future, Newell said, she hopes to create more opportunities for the youth of Roxboro. “If they do go away to school, or even if they don’t,” Newell said she hoped “that they know there is a good and viable future here for them with many opportunities.” Also, she said she hopes to increase the housing availability and improve the quality of that available housing. Newell also hopes to create more educational opportunities for the technically oriented and those who want to go into business for themselves. Along with welcoming new industries, Newell also hopes to help existing businesses expand and grow technologically. She said bringing in new businesses will help create new job opportunities in Roxboro and Person County.

“When I look back at our past uptown and I look at our uptown now, I feel excited and proud to see how far it has come. There has been an incredible amount of revitalization,” Newell explained. “When a city’s uptown looks new and revitalized, it makes the whole city look amazing. There is always more we can do. I love this city and this community and the way people connect together,” she concluded.

Newell became Roxboro’s mayor in 2011 after serving eight years as a city council member, including three years as mayor pro-tem. She was elected to continue her service in 2013 and again in 2017.

Roxboro Community School (RCS), a public charter school for grades six through 12, is housed in the former Roxboro Cotton Mills/Tultex building, constructed in 1899. It is on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

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