This is my first elected position. I honestly did not know what to expect Jan. 1 when I became the District 1 Commissioner representing approximately 175,000 constituents alongside my assistant, Ryan Williams, who was new to the area as well.
I spent the first day in new hire training with Ryan, where we received our badges and introduction to working for Cobb County. We both left training and headed to my office – to discover the badges we thought would get us into the parking deck did not. A visit to HR resolved this issue quickly.
An office swap occurred during the holiday, and items from the previous commissioner were stacked in boxes in my office. Before unpacking, property management painted, changed my shelving unit into a desk and built a custom table – for less than $200. My table is amazing, and I have received many compliments. I have to remind Ryan to make sure no one attempts to remove it from my office!
From the campaign trail, I knew the issues that were a concern to constituents. Ryan and I had phone calls and emails with reports of potholes, signal outages and code enforcement concerns. Jim Martinez, District 1 Engineer, and District 1 Road Maintenance Division Manager Dallas Cain and his crew have quickly addressed these concerns and helped answer various emails on my behalf.
I have visited several sites with Deputy Director Lee McClead and David Breaden, Division Manager Cobb County Water System, to assess site compliance and silting concerns. I need to carry boots with me next time, as we walked through the woods to see firsthand how silt was potentially entering a private pond.
Did you know that District 1 had 508,210 square feet of commercial space permitted for 2018? This is far less than other districts, which saw 2.8 million-5.3 million square feet of commercial space permitted. However, this is how West Cobb maintains its hometown atmosphere. Our small business market is thriving with 456 new businesses in our district in 2018.
The average age of Cobb residents is rising with 11.8 percent over the age of 65, and is expected to reach 20 percent by 2050. Cobb has five multipurpose centers and two neighborhood centers to service the needs of our active older population. Recently, I stopped in for a visit at the West Cobb Senior Center to meet a group that was getting ready to square dance. I have not square danced in years, and while I was asked to join, I took a rain check and will return another day, with a promise of no videos.
I enjoy being out in our community and meeting with constituents to share information and ideas. In February, I had the honor of being guest speaker at the Acworth Business Association’s Women’s Business Network meeting at Brookwood Christian School. We discussed many important topics, including our vision for West Cobb, how the Community Development Agency can help businesses, and small cellphone towers for improved wireless communications. We also discussed the comprehensive transportation plan updates coming later this year.
Public safety plays a tremendous role in our community. Most of us regard public safety as enforcing traffic violations, fire safety and emergency response. I had the pleasure of joining Officer Fernando Pharr, Officer Nathalie Jegg and Officer Rasean Stoney at Dunkin’ Donuts in Acworth. A young boy came dressed as a police officer, and while shy at first, his smile and sheer delight of sitting in the driver’s seat of a police car and turning on the lights reminded me how we can impact our community in small, but important, ways.
My campaign slogan was “None of us is smarter than all of us.” Each day in office reminds me that by working together, our great public safety officers and county staff meet the needs of not only the District 1 constituents, but also the entire county.
– Keli Gambrill was elected as the Cobb County District 1 Commissioner in 2018.