In this Q&A, we speak with Amy Bello, administrative assistant for the Center for African American Studies and newly elected mayor of the Town of Wethersfield.
Q: How long have you been at Wesleyan?
A: Five years. I started in November 2012 as a temp at the Wasch Center for Retired Faculty.
Q: What do you do here now?
A: I work as an administrative assistant for the Center for African American Studies (CAAS), the African American Studies Program (AFAM) and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF). I have a beautiful office on High Street and am lucky to be working with vibrant, engaging faculty, staff and students.
Q: What do you like best about working at Wesleyan?
A: I love the energetic, intelligent people I work with—both students and faculty. Their breadth and depth of knowledge is amazing. I also enjoy seeing the world from another perspective, which only enhances my vision.
Q: You were also recently elected mayor of Wethersfield. What made you want to run?
A: I had been an active volunteer in town through organizations mainly focused on my children and their interests. I had an understanding of local government, knew many people in town and interacted with many elected officials, but never had a desire to get more involved. However, two years ago when I learned that no Democratic woman was running for a seat on the town council, a neighbor and active member of the town’s Democratic committee encouraged me to run.
Q: Why was the lack of women Democratic candidates such a big issue for you?
A: Women make up more than 50 percent of the population; the Town Council is supposed to be representing the taxpayers. I said, They’re going to run all men, how can that be? I ran and I was the lowest vote-getter to get a seat on the Town Council. Fast-forward two years and in the November 2017 election I was the highest vote-getter. (In Wethersfield, candidates do not run for mayor but for a seat on the Town Council. Often, the candidate that receives the highest votes in the election becomes the mayor, but ultimately it is a decision made by the newly elected Town Council at its first meeting.) I was honored to be chosen as mayor.
Q: How do you balance the demands of being a mayor with your day job at Wesleyan?
A: Before I accepted the position of mayor I had to carefully consider whether or not I could work and fulfill my responsibilities as mayor while also being a wife and mother to my three teenaged daughters. My plate is full, but with the help of an amazing support system (my husband, my parents, and the other eight Town Council members) I am able to juggle all of the responsibilities. The town is in the capable hands of a town manager who runs the day-to-day operations. I am a phone call away if there is an emergency situation. Otherwise, I make sure my town business is conducted after my hours at Wesleyan end.
Q: What’s a typical day for you like?
A: After I take out the dogs, feed the chickens and get my daughters off to school, I come to Wesleyan. I am a .75 FTE employee so I am able to leave work at 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I schedule town meetings or appointments on those afternoons when I have more time. It is important that I am home to have dinner with my family before I attend evening meetings. Every week is different. One week I may have only one meeting while the next I am out every night.
Q: That’s a pretty full slate! What kinds of activities do you do for fun or in your downtime?
A: I enjoy reading and traveling. I am on a mission to visit 50 states before I turn 50. I have five states left to see and five years to complete my task.
Q: Which five states are left?
A: North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Utah and Colorado.
Q: Which state was your favorite?
A: Hawaii was the most beautiful, but the state that was the biggest surprise to me was South Dakota. It was fabulous! We stayed in a log cabin for a week. We saw Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands; we took a horseback ride through the Black Mountains; we saw Crazy Horse. It’s just amazing! That was probably one of our favorite family vacations—everybody should go see it!