Maureen Fraser didn’t always know that public service would be in her future. However, two influential mentors eventually convinced the now four-term alderman that she had a gift to serve the community.
The Indiana native, mother of three and successful real estate agent moved from Houston to Collierville in 1995 with her husband, David.
Once in Collierville, Fraser, the recipient of the 2017 Readers’ Choice Woman of the Year Award, became active in the local PTA and Girl Scout Troop before eventually meeting role models Linda Kerley and Tom Brooks.
Fraser gives former Collierville mayor Kerley credit for pushing her to further serve the community.
“Linda ‘planted the seed’ and made the suggestion that I should think about running for Alderman,” Fraser said of the former mayor who passed away nearly four years ago. “Initially, I responded ‘no way!.’ However, the more I thought about it and attended more of the board meetings, I knew I could make a difference.”
The Independent recently caught up with Fraser, who has been named vice mayor six times since being elected more than 14 years ago.
Q) What are some of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s achievements that you are most proud of during your tenure with the BMA?
A) Given I was elected in May 2003, there are so many during my 14 years of public service, it is a challenge to name them all. However, without a doubt, the clear No. 1 is our establishment of our own Collierville Municipal School District.
That one watershed event for our town has completely changed the outlook and future for Collierville. While Collierville has always had a bright future, the establishment of our own school system, the tremendous success it has seen, plus the opening of the new high school next fall — the largest and most advanced in Tennessee — has made Collierville very, very desirable for families wanting to move to Collierville.
Beyond that, forming our own Collierville Library, our ability to have a balanced budget every year, maintain a Triple A bond rating while still continuing to improve all our town services and amenities for our residents, a fully staffed Police and Fire Department resulting in a safe community, and so many employees who care and work so hard for all the citizens of Collierville.
Q) What is the best advice you’ve given as a mother? As a public servant?
A) Just like my father always told me and my four brothers and two sisters, “remember who you are.” That can have a lot of meanings, but to me, it always meant to stay grounded in who I was, how I was raised and my personal set of values and beliefs. Now that our three kids are adults, David and I have seen that advice has been engrained in Brittany, Andrew and Abby.
As far as advice since becoming a public servant, I would have to say it would be to never forget the people who elected you and that you represent their interests, not your own personal interests.
Q) What is a typical day like for you?
A) That is a hard one because, in reality, there honestly is no typical day for me. Every day is so different depending on the challenges or opportunities that pop up. I usually am at my office by 8 a.m., and I work until all my work is done. Because my personal profession is flexible, I am able to attend all town meetings, worksessions and and many community events.
Q) How did you get into real estate?
A) I had considered it for many years but was too busy with volunteer activities. The real impetus came in November 2005 when my husband was facing a job layoff – I knew I needed to do something so we could stay in Collierville and raise our family.
I enjoy helping people find the home that is right for them and being there working with them as they make a major life decision. I love selling Collierville!
Q) What are some of your interests outside of work and public service?
A) Any time off is usually planned well in advance due to our meeting schedules and I try to go visit children at school or family. My parents live in South Carolina and I have six siblings all over the U.S. I enjoy watching college football and basketball.
Q) I remember when the BMA voted to name the senior/rec. center after Linda Kerley you said that she is the person who got you into public service. Was she a mentor to you? Have you had any other mentors?
A) Linda “planted the seed” and made the suggestion that I should think about running for Alderman. Initially I responded “no way.” However, the more I thought about it and attended more of the board meetings, I knew I could make a difference.
Linda was a major role model for me: selfless, tireless and always wanting to do more in the best interests of Collierville.
Beyond Linda, former Vice Mayor and Alderman Tom Brooks was a big influence early in my career as a elected official.
I always tell folks I am not a politician. I want to work hard and base by decisions on the “right thing to do” not on what may be the most popular. The hardest part was when you realize, on some issues, you can’t please everyone.
Mr. Tom would always encourage me to follow my heart and gut instinct and that would lead me to the right decision that was in the best interests of the most people.
And, I have to say my parents, without a doubt, were my first mentors. I hope I have made them proud. Finally my husband and kids have been unwavering forces in my life and have helped me through many ups and downs and always kept me grounded to “remember who you are.”
Q) How do you encourage people to get involved in the community?
A) Leading by example is, without a doubt, the very best way to encourage people to get involved. You can’t get people enthused about doing something if you yourself are not enthused.
I’m humbled by the number of people that have gotten more involved in the different aspects of Collierville. I hope that I can continue to lead by example and be a positive influence on everyone I know.