Kennesaw mayor shares “keys to success” in State of the City address

Kennesaw mayor Derek Easterling in front of city of Kennesaw logoKennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling (screenshot from Zoom)

By Rebecca Gaunt

Mayor Derek Easterling delivered his seventh annual State of the City Tuesday, following the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new 42,000-square-foot recreation center at Adams Park.

Easterling jogged onto the stage to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” with his usual vigor to address the crowd at the Kennesaw Business Association luncheon.

“We haven’t had the need for a TAN [tax anticipation note] in over four years. We made a promise to the citizens in our community that we would be fiscally responsible, keep taxes low, and do things right. Ladies and gentlemen, we have done that. We have kept our promise,” he told the crowd.

He cited the development of the downtown entertainment district and the development of downtown residential areas and businesses as two of the best actions the city has taken. The mayor also detailed the city’s big developments in 2021 with an accompanying slide show.

Some of the highlights included the Ellison, with 274 multi-family units valued at $24 million, Galt Commons, with 45 single-family homes valued at $17 million, and Prichard Park, with 74 residences and $25 million value.

Easterling introduced several city staff who graduated from nearby Cobb County high schools and Kennesaw State University. He also asked several high school students in the audience to stand, noting that they were in middle school when he was first elected.

“In a few short months these young people will graduate and they’ll move on,” he said. “We’ve created many opportunities for them to be successful in our community, the community they’ve grown up in. No longer do our children have to move away for greater opportunity.”

Easterling went on to credit “the big three” as the cornerstones to success in the community – business development, sustained relationships and an economic development strategy.

In 2022, the city will update its comprehensive plan.

“It’s a living document, shared by its leadership, staff and citizens. It’s a policy guide for making zoning and capital investment decisions. And it sets policies for city officials and staff concerning the future development of the city,” he said.

Two meetings are scheduled for public input at Ben Robertson Community Center on Feb. 9 and Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m.

View the full speech on the City of Kennesaw Facebook page here.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.