Who is Keli Gambrill?
Keli Gambrill found her inspiration to run for District 1 commissioner from first-hand experience with zoning issues. The Michigan-born transplant moved to Cobb County in 2003, and southern living has left its mark on her through a passion for government, community, and family. Gambrill said her core issues in running for commissioner are to prioritize spending, balance growth, and improve transparency.
The runoff election for District 1, which covers northwest Cobb, will be held on July 24.
Gambrill was the president of People Looking After Neighborhoods and has a background in business and accounting. She got involved in local politics when her yard started flooding due to a development under construction next door. Zoning and land use “turned into a passion,” she said. “Not every homeowner has the time to learn what I had learned.” She also said the biggest issue facing the county was the budget.
“The budget is the thing that is the most difficult to understand,” she said. “That’s where I feel my background with the county and business is going to be beneficial.”
The July Run-off Election
Incumbent District 1 Commissioner Bob Weatherford finished first in a four-person Republican primary but faces Gambrill on July 24 after failing to secure more than 50 percent of the vote. The two other candidates, Melissa O’Brien and Forrest Shealy, are officially out of the race. Regardless of who wins the seat, District 1 will remain a Republican district, as no Democrat registered for the election. Weatherford came in at 40.75 percent of the votes with a tally of 4,935 while his runoff opponent Keli Gambrill got 26.21 percent of the vote with a count of 3,174. The contest will be decided next month, with the winner securing four years on the commission.
Why Gambrill thinks she should be elected commissioner
“The upcoming election is critical and will determine the course of our community for years to come. Irresponsible zoning decisions will forever negatively impact West and Northwest Cobb for future generations,” she said. “I am uniquely positioned to address the county’s self-induced financial crisis and protect our homeowner’s property value, while maintaining West and Northwest Cobb’s quality of life. I will constantly seek new ideas and solutions to resolve all budgeting issues before ever agreeing to a tax increase. I will be the one you hold accountable for the Board of commissioner’s actions, as I transition from being your voice at the podium to your elected official.”
Gambrill was a homeowner’s advocate for 13 years and said it is her desire to have a strong community and fiscally focused commissioner. She said that running a deficit is not an option and that she will not support a debt increase without a referendum. She also said the county should assure all public safety needs are met and that the county focuses funding on state-mandated services.
“The solution is looking at the budget and not spending money on bad ideas,” Gambrill said. As an example, she mentioned the pedestrian bridge over I-285 near Suntrust Park. “We’ve seen Mr. Weatherford approve many expenditures that were not in the budget. Prior to approving any expenditures, I would want to know where we were getting the money from. Mr. Weatherford was included on that vote, and that wasn’t in our budget. They had to find money somewhere to build that bridge that many say wasn’t in our budget.”
To Gambrill, traffic management could be as simple as adding left turn arrows where intersection improvements, such as left-turn lanes, have already been made. She also favors adding reversible roads, where a third lane is added that changes direction according to times of high traffic flow during the day.
She said she will follow the Cobb County’s zoning code while protecting both adjacent property values and property owner rights.
Her view on public transit in Cobb
“Before we proceed down the line of transit, we need to ask the voters what type of transit they would use,” she said. “I think that is critical going forward. We know the Board of Commissioners is going to make the final decision to put in front of the constituents for the votes, but we need to ask the constituents what they’re willing to use and ask their input before starting the process.”
She said real transparency is among her main priorities. She said she will push for easier access to all county documents, for quarterly town hall meetings, and will be accessible and responsive as a commissioner.
“We need to take everything that has given us as truth, but then we need to question that truth,” Gambrill said. “As a candidate, I have asked a lot of questions. But going forward as your commissioner I will ask the same questions until I know the information I am provided gives me the bigger picture of the decision that I need to make.”
For more information on Kelli Gambrill, visit cobbneedskeli.com.