Melanie Maria Elder is running for Austell City Council, campaigning for At Large Post 1. The city’s municipal elections are on November 5, 2019.
The Courier had a conversation with her about her candidacy last week at the Panera Bread on the East West Connector.
Elder said she was raised in the City of Atlanta, but spent a lot of time in Austell while growing up because her family was from there, and she attends a 166-year-old church in Austell she describes as her “family church.”
She became a full-time resident of Austell 16 years ago.
“I’m a mother of a three year old daughter. Her name is Madison. She keeps me on my toes,” she said. “She takes dance down in the City of Austell at Extraordinary Dance Productions. So I love supporting our local businesses in our community. She’s part of the reason I’m running. I really care about the future of Austell.”
“A lot of the decisions that are made by city council impacts us directly within the city,” said Elder.
Asked why she thinks she is the best candidate for the council post, she said, “I will be the best candidate based on my passion, (and) my integrity. I love building relationships with people.”
“I think that’s something that we really need. Relationships between City Council, relationships between businesses, relationships between the community, that’s something that we really need right now,” she said.
“I have that skill set,” she said. “So it’s nothing that I have to develop and that will be developed once I come on the council. That’s the skill set that I already have.”
She said that her experience as a professional in the insurance industry will benefit the city.
“I’m responsible for making sure that my team is staying on top of any compliance standards. So I think that’s going to be an important asset to help making sure as we’re making the decision that they’re aligned with laws.”
She said that if elected her priorities will be civic engagement, education, public safety, and economic development.
“I believe they will all aligned together to help create a stronger Austell,” Elder said. “The main focus of my platform is restoring the voice of our community. “
She said that she would focus on youth and seniors, to bridge the multi-generational gap.
Elder also said she would hold frequent town hall meetings.
Asked her approach to land use and zoning issues, Elder said, “I believe there should be balance.”
She said that whatever decisions are made should not take away from the character of Austell. The city is known as a friendly small town, she said, and she wants to keep it that way.
She said while she supports live-work development, she wants it done in a way that doesn’t change the friendly small-town feel of the city.
Asked if she had any closing comments for Austell voters, she said, “I would love support of the city on November 5.”
“My focus is on restoring the voice of the community. I really want to partner with everyone. This election is not just about me, it’s about our city,” she said. “It’s about us growing together, to establish a future for those that are coming up behind us to make sure that we leave a legacy that’s worthy to follow. Also … once I commit myself to something, I make sure I follow it all the way through.”
She repeated a quote she said was originally written for high school, “When I stand before God, at the end of my life, I hope I’ve used everything that he gave me.”
“So everyday,” she said, “that’s how I’m living my life,making sure that I’m walking in the way that he wants me to walk in, making sure I’m living to my fullest potential and not just saving it for me, but spreading goodness to everyone and helping everybody any way that I can.”