One of the “new” people…with the choice of Jessica Kelly, council members acknowledge changing populace of Adamstown

By on January 14, 2015

For the next year, Adamstown residents have a new public servant: Councilwoman Jessica Kelly.

She was sworn in this week to complete the term of former Councilman Ed Zander who moved to Arizona.

Kelly, 36, lives in Denver and formerly served on the borough planning commission. Kelly was chosen over Mike Wetherhold, a 12-year veteran of council and current vice president of the Adamstown Library board of trustees.

Councilwoman Jessica Kelly

Councilwoman Jessica Kelly

Kelly, a Democrat, noted what sparked her interest in local government.

“I had sort of gotten involved in going to a few of the borough meetings to get things going in our neighborhood,” said Kelly. “Mostly, we have a park and the residents have been kind of looking for some activity to take place back here for some development, so I took it upon myself to attend some meetings to talk about that and see if I couldn’t get the borough to get moving on a few of those projects.”

Kelly, with her husband, Mark, is raising two children who attend Adamstown Elementary where she has been a classroom volunteer since 2011. She is hoping to bring to council a new perspective.

“There wasn’t a representation of a young family,” said Kelly, “someone with children in the schools and an interest of how things affect young families. I read the article you wrote when Ed Zander left and he spoke about the new people moving into the area.

“That’s kind of a fact of life now where we are; it’s changing and there are a lot of new people living here now. You kind of feel you’re on the other side of the tracks here in a new development [Brookview Estates] and to represent that side of the community is important, too.”

At the last council meeting when members voted unanimously 6-0 in favor of Kelly, there was little discussion except that they were looking for someone “newer” and “younger.”

“It’s probably an important choice for council to go in that direction,” said Kelly. “You can’t keep making the same choices again and again. You have to eventually go outside of the box.

“Choosing someone that is not born and raised here, is younger, that’s different from them and a change. You have to eventually, not that I would be a new regime, but you have to start looking to the future, like who’s going to take over when these other people decide they can’t do it anymore. You can’t keep filling these vacancies with the same people. You’re not getting fresh ideas.”

Kelly has worked with Wetherhold doing volunteer work for Adamstown Community Days and said he is a “really good guy, smart.” He would “obviously do a good job” on council.

Kelly, from Mifflin County, has a degree in textile design from Philadelphia University, and is a stay-at-home mom.

“It was my decision to raise a family, however, that brought me to this area permanently and has allowed me to call it home,” said Kelly. “The sense of community that comes along with small town living is irreplaceable and something that I have found myself to be very passionate about.”

Kelly is excited and looking forward to making a positive contribution.

“It’s going to be a learning curve for me to see what I can contribute,” said Kelly. “I don’t have those connections to the community where I feel loyal to certain people or certain things so I don’t think I’ll have a problem of saying what I think.”

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

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