Sandy Springs first Black elected official is sworn into office

Melody Kelley, Sandy Springs first Black elected official, was sworn into office Tuesday with her daughter, Kiara, holding the oath of office document that she read from aloud.

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Melody Kelley, Sandy Springs first Black elected official, was sworn into office Tuesday with her daughter, Kiara, holding the oath of office document that she read from aloud.

Sandy Springs’ first Black elected official was sworn into office Tuesday with her daughter holding the oath of office document that she read from aloud.

Before taking seats at their first City Council meeting, Councilwomen Melody Kelley serving in District 2 and Melissa Mular serving in District 3 were sworn in by Georgia Supreme Court Justice Shawn LaGrua.

Incumbents Mayor Rusty Paul, District 1 Councilman John Paulson, District 4 Councilwoman Jody Reichel, District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio and District 6 Councilman Andy Bauman were also sworn in at City Hall.

Kelley, a chemistry professor at Georgia State University Perimeter College, is Sandy Springs’ first Black elected official since the city incorporated in 2005. Friday, she described the swearing-in ceremony as surreal and humbling after a long campaign season.

When Kelley announced plans to run for office in January 2021, she was the first candidate to stake a claim in November’s local election. She said she was running because it was “vital to create a more vibrant, inclusive and forward-thinking community where every voice is heard and everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

Friday, the new councilwoman said it was important to have her 15-year-old daughter, Kiara, by her side during the ceremony and added that Sandy Springs has to do a better job of engaging youth in the inner workings of local government.

Kelley added that she wants her daughter, as a person of color, to know that all paths are open to her.

“I feel a duty to model the limitless potential that I feel she and every young person has,” Kelley said. “I have a duty to model that she belongs everywhere.”