Theresa (Gatson) Kelly is one of two candidates running for the office of mayor in the
April 2, municipal election.
Kelly, a Chillicothe native, has been the city auditor for the last 24 years. She was first elected to that position during a special election on Jan. 25, 1995.
“City government has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I have loved serving the citizens of Chillicothe the last 24 years and want to continue my involvement with the city and community. I chose to run for mayor because I want to get more involved with the citizens, the activities and the events of the city. I have been contemplating running for mayor for a very long time and after the passing of Mayor Chuck Haney in 2018, I decided that this was the perfect time for me to pursue my goal.”
Kelly’s position as city auditor puts her in a unique position to be involved, behind-the-scenes, with the city’s projects. Kelly said that many city goals have been achieved during her time in city government, including the new hospital and prison, establishment of Lifeflight Eagle, the Chili Bay Waterpark and Stoneybrooke T.I.F. Project.
“I have been involved in the financing of each and everyone of these projects and more and I have an in-depth knowledge that no one else in city government has. I want to help Chillicothe attain other goals and I think I have the expertise to lead this city with future projects.”
Kelly wants to be a voice and leader for citizens, working to ensure their goals are attained.
“If elected my goals, would be the goals of citizens,” she said.
Kelly said the biggest problem facing Chillicothe is the flattening of the sales tax base. She said the city’s 1 percent general sales tax generates about $1.8 million per year.
“This 1 percent supports and or subsidizes the personell and operational expenditures for the city administration, fire and police departments, the 911 dispatch system, airport, streets and golf course. The flattening of our sales tax makes it more and more difficult to continue to provide the services our citizens deserve.”
Recognizing this ever-growing struggle, Kelly said her biggest long-term goal, if elected, is to make sure the city remains fiscally responsible. “I take great pride in the financial stability of the city as I leave the office of auditor,” she said.
The biggest asset of the city, she feels, are partnerships that provide services for citizens across the board.
“The biggest asset to the City of Chillicothe is the partnerships we have with other intergovernmental entities and organizations to assist us with providing services to people. Without these partnerships, the general fund could not support all the service we currently provide,” she said referencing the city contract with the Livingston County Ambulance District, County 911 dispatch system and prosecutorial services, humane society YMCA and more.
In addition to having the experience, she said, she also has the strong desire to lead the city into the future.
“I have worked on the finances of every city project for the last 24 years and know the ins and outs of the entire city organization,” she said. “I am a team player, yet have the leadership skills to help move Chillicothe forward in a positive direction. I have the enthusiasm and energy to promote the city and community.”
Kelly is a 1973 Chillicothe High School graduate, She earned a bachelor of science degree in business education from Missouri Western State College, then worked in the accounting field until being elected as city auditor.
She and her husband, Jack, have five children, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren between them.
She is a graduate of Northwest Missouri Leadership, member of St. Columban Catholic Church, “YMCA Y-PAL/lunch buddy, and is a board member of the Salvation Army. She and her husband have also been foster parents and have served as a host family to a Chillicothe Mudcat player for three years.
Continue to read the Constitution-Tribune for more election coverage. And be sure to go to our website, www.chillicothenews.com for the latest election coverage on April 2.