Hilyer wants to sustain husband’s efforts for Thorsby
Nicole Hilyer might be new to the Thorsby Town Council, but she’s not new to the town’s government.
Hilyer’s service on the council will undoubtedly be tied to her late husband, former mayor Dearl Hilyer, but Nicole Hilyer said she can benefit the town based on her own merit, and she has strong reasons to serve—and serve well.
“I don’t want Dearl’s work to stop,” Nicole Hilyer said. “He had a good plan set in motion for this town. And this community has been there for me during the worst of times, so if I have a chance to give back part of myself, I feel like I owe it to the community.”
Dearl Hilyer served one term as the town’s mayor and had just been re-elected to a second term when he died Oct. 16.
“He loved it,” Nicole Hilyer said. “He truly loved it. It was a perfect spot for him. He wanted to make a difference, and he did.”
Hilyer, a teacher at Thorsby School, was chosen to fill an open council seat by the other councilmembers at Monday’s meeting at the Thorsby Annex. There were six other applicants for the seat, including two former councilmembers, but Hilyer was the only one nominated and received a unanimous vote.
“She’s driven; she’s focused. She’s always got everything together,” said councilmember Randall Higgins, who nominated Hilyer. “I think she is going to be a strong person for Thorsby.”
After Dearl Hilyer’s death, then-councilmember Jean Nelson was elected by the council to serve the remainder of Hilyer’s term as mayor. Nelson’s move left open a council seat, and town residents were able to submit applications to be considered by the council.
Nicole Hilyer said a fellow teacher suggested she throw her name in the hat.
“I hadn’t thought about it,” she said. “But then I thought, ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ I have ideas, and I want to see the best for my little town. Besides, I already had a lot of time invested in it.”
Hilyer said she frequently helped Dearl Hilyer with his work and that she particularly enjoyed discussing important decisions with her husband.
“I think she was part of him being so good as the mayor,” Higgins said.
Nicole Hilyer said she thinks it is important for Thorsby’s government to help the municipality progress while maintaining its small-town sense of community.
“It’s a really good place to be,” Hilyer said. “I want to keep it that way. Thorsby is home.”
In addition to serving the town, Hilyer said she also thinks she has an obligation to set an example for her two daughters about how to deal with difficult situations.
“I’m not a quitter. I’ve never been a quitter. I don’t want my girls to be quitters,” Hilyer said. “I want them to see that when things are the hardest, we find another gear.”