Marietta councilwoman to run for mayor

Marietta City Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly (far right) was named the 2020 Woman of the Year by liveSAFE Resources. Councilman Johnny Walker, (left) Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin and Kim Gresh look on.

Credit: City of Marietta

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Marietta City Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly (far right) was named the 2020 Woman of the Year by liveSAFE Resources. Councilman Johnny Walker, (left) Mayor Steve "Thunder" Tumlin and Kim Gresh look on.

Credit: City of Marietta

A Marietta City Council member is setting her sights on higher office.

Michelle Cooper Kelly said she will run for mayor in 2021. The position is held by incumbent Steve “Thunder” Tumlin, who was first elected to a four-year term in 2009.

Kelly, elected in 2013, said she has been thinking and praying about running for mayor the last couple of months. She said the timing is right since she’s nearing the end of her second full term on Council and has served as mayor pro tem this year.

“I’m just a believer in doing a good job in a role and seeing where my skill sets can be easily applied to be successful in the next role,” she said. “It seemed like a natural progression.”

Tumlin said he plans to announce his decision in the next few weeks.

“Out of courtesy and respect, I wanted to allow for Michelle’s announcement to have full attention without my campaign minimizing her special moment,” he said.

The next election for mayor and all seven City Council and Marietta City School Board seats is Nov. 2, 2021. The mayor is elected citywide, and each City Council and school board candidate is elected by residents in one of seven wards.

If elected, Kelly would be the city’s first Black mayor. Marietta has previously had two women serve as mayor: Victoria Chastain from 1986 to 1989 and Ansley L. Meaders from 1993 to 2001.

As mayor, Kelly said she wants to focus on engaging Marietta’s younger population. For example, she wants to create a mayor’s youth council made up of people who are 18 and younger. She also said she wants to see the city do more to include the perspectives of adults who are under the age of 40.

She also said she wants to expand the city’s commercial tax base so Marietta can keep its residential property tax rate low and properly fund the school system.

Kelly also said adding more workforce housing in the city will help people who work in Marietta but can’t afford to purchase homes with a price tag starting at $300,000.

Kelly is chair of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Committee and is a member of the Finance and Public Works committees. Kelly also serves on the boards for WellStar Kennestone Hospital, Cobb Travel & Tourism, Cobb Community Foundation and Marietta High School’s governance team.

Kelly is the senior resident manager of environmental health and safety at Anheuser-Busch, LLC. She has over 25 years of experience in ensuring workplace safety and environmental sustainability. She and her husband, William, have three children: Trey, Lauren and Brooke.

In July, Kelly was sworn in as elected third vice president of the Georgia Municipal Association, a non-profit organization that provides educational and consulting services and legislative advocacy to its more than 500 member cities, according to its website. In August, liveSAFE Resources, which provides services and resources to people affected by domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse, named Kelly its 2020 Woman of the Year.

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