‘Take the opportunity:’ North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley encourages next generation of leadership

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 11:07 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2023 at 11:18 PM EDT
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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - March is Women’s History Month, and Mayor Marilyn Hatley is part of North Myrtle Beach’s history.

Her path to politics wasn’t a straight one, as she reflects on her last six terms as mayor, she is hoping to inspire the next generation of female leaders.

“My husband brought me here, he graduated from pharmacy school in 1970 and we moved here,” said Hatley.

Reflecting on her journey to get to the mayor’s office, Hatley says she grew up in a close-knit family. She was the last of three girls.

“I was supposed to be a boy,” she said.

Hatley’s mother and two sisters were all educators, so naturally, she was going to pursue a career in teaching. First, though she would meet her husband and move to Columbia. There she would serve as the secretary to one of the assistant attorney generals and hold a position in the wildlife department, now known as the Department of Natural Resources.

“One thing that’s interesting is at that time, I had no idea that I was going to spend the rest of my life in the city of North Myrtle Beach,” she said.

When she moved down south, she was bored and decided to become a cosmetology teacher. She held that job for over four decades.

“When I decided to run for city council I had a lot of encouragement from friends and family. There were things that I thought could be better,” she said.

Hatley was on council for five years.

“That was a very tough race,” she said.

It was tough because she went head-to-head with someone who was well-known, liked, and respected. She ended up winning and eventually made it to the big chair, as mayor.

“I was the woman of the city that really went to work and helped during my campaign,” said Hatley

At 72, Hatley says she wants to see more women in local government.

“I always want to encourage women to take the opportunity. If you are interested in politics or being a leader of your city or any other leadership role, then you need to follow your dream,” she said.

During her time in office, she has overseen the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex construction, Robert Edge Parkway connector, and Aquatic Center. She hopes for more places for the community to gather.

“I would eventually like to see our city have a civic center, where we can have plays and more things in the arts. I would love for us to have our own theater,” she said.