Candidate Q&A – Kelly Walsh, Post 1A, City CommissionKelly Walsh. Photo provided to Decaturish
In an effort to help voters prepare for the Nov. 7 elections, Decaturish sent questions to candidates for the Decatur City Commission Post 1A, which is being vacated by Fred Boykin. Early voting begins Oct. 16. To see the City Commission district maps, click here. Decaturish will also be hosting a candidates forum at the Decatur branch of the DeKalb County Public Library on Sept. 25. For more information about that event, click here.
1) Why are you running for the Decatur City Commission seat?
I’m running because I believe in Decatur. I would like to be part of the leadership team that takes us into the next decade and beyond with integrated comprehensive planning, smart growth, and the protection of a healthy living environment for all residents. I’d like to serve as a commissioner in Decatur because it is a great city with a rich history, a vibrant present, and a compelling future.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
My track record of dedicated service and engagement in the community over the last twelve years has afforded me a perspective on issues that I feel is invaluable to the commissioner role. Through service to multiple constituencies across the city I have been able to learn what residents are thinking, worrying about, and what their ideas are for our future. I am a parent with children in the schools for the last seven years (and with 10 more to go!), a small business owner, an active volunteer, and a community leader. I believe strongly that Decatur residents deserve a leader who is fully-engaged, someone they can trust, who listens – someone who answers the call and gets things done. I am known for having a collaborative and positive leadership style. I prioritize partnerships, work across diverse interest groups and can leverage a varied skill set founded in strategic planning, strong communication, and a deep desire to learn from others. As an elected representative of our city I will bring professionalism and a responsive approach to working with our city government, county partners, and state representatives.
3) What do you think is Decatur’s greatest strength?
Decatur’s greatest strength is by far its residents. Our citizenry is smart, driven, charitable, and neighborly. We have a civically-engaged populace like no other. The sense of place we create by acting and conducting ourselves in this way is very special and is the result of our city’s strong character.
4) What do you think is Decatur’s biggest challenge?
Decatur’s greatest challenge stems directly from our greatest strength. Over time and working together we have constructed a healthy city with a strong economy and excellent schools. We have cultivated a unique walkable city with a high quality of life that many people want to experience. The recent pace of growth and its negative impact on our diversity has been one of our biggest challenges as a city.
5) How would you address what you feel is Decatur’s biggest challenge?
We need to take a multi-pronged approach to fostering diversity. I recognize that Decatur must be cognizant at every turn regarding how to support and increase racial, economic and social diversity. The underpinning of that diversity is affordable housing. As a commissioner I will bring the voice and perspective that we need to create affordable housing opportunities that can accommodate more city and school employees, public servants, seniors, and the next generation of young people who want to return to the special place where they grew up. Additionally, I will strongly support our efforts as a community to execute on the 60-point Better Together Community Action Plan and use it to meet our stated collective goals for equity, inclusion, and engagement.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as a commissioner?
A top priority of mine would be to partner with our downtown residents and business owners to create a world-class downtown district that anchors our entire city. Through master planning combined with my strong leadership our city’s largest neighborhood will realize its full potential as a vibrant, green, active and robust commercial corridor. Additionally, I would be an integral influence in the master planning process for the United Methodist Children’s Home property. This 77-acre property offers a greenspace legacy for generations to come. I will ensure that we plan strategically to maximize its use for all residents with a view to both active and passive use, as well as creating opportunities to showcase the arts, culture and diversity of our community. Also critical to our city’s future is to plan for growth and development while keeping the impact to our schools at the top of mind. I will be a personal bridge to connect the Commission with our school community to align our efforts. This relationship will ensure better long-term outcomes for all of our residents. My commitment to Decatur and vision for our shared success is elaborated in more detail at www.votekellywalsh.com.
7) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Absolutely and without a doubt I promise to meet the high standards of comportment and behavior that Decatur residents deserve and expect. As an elected official I would take extremely seriously the responsibility I have to conduct myself in an ethical and transparent manner, not just meeting minimum standards in that regard, but setting an example for my peers in local, county, and state government. My goal is always to lead by example and to serve with humility.