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Recently appointed City Councilman up for election

SHELLEY — Jeff Kelley, recently appointed city councilman for Seat 1, will defend his seat in the upcoming November 7 election.

Kelley, who has been involved in city government in many capacities over a number of years, wants to bring his experience and knowledge to bear as a duly elected member of the council.

Kelly is a Shelley native, who grew up in the community. He left to be a missionary for his church and attend college. He earned a law degree and practiced in California, but returned to his roots in Idaho in 1995.

“I’ve given up on the world at this point,†Kelley said. “But I want to do everything I can to help my own hometown. That’s where I can make a difference.â€

Kelley has served on the city council previously, from 2012 to 2018. He left the council at that time to concentrate on bringing new life to a community newspaper, which had been discontinued after 110 years. He is a partner in the venture, the Community Pioneer, with Mike Price, whose upbringing was also in Shelley. It offers both a printed newspaper twice a month as well as daily online news coverage. It’s been an expensive and time-consuming enterprise, but one that brings Kelley some gratification and a sense of accomplishment.

“I felt there was a dearth of news for people in and around Shelley after the Shelley Pioneer closed in 2016,†he said. “People didn’t know who had died, or gotten married or graduated. They didn’t have information about city and county government and weren’t informed about school districts in Shelley and Firth.â€

With the decision to run for election, Kelley has vowed to distance himself from covering the council meetings or affecting the way it is reported.

“Mike and other writers will take on that part of the job,†he said.

Kelley has always tried to be transparent about his stand on various issues. As a former councilman, he maintained a Facebook page where he answered questions, responded to criticisms and clarified his votes on topics.

“One of the things I’ve learned from being in politics is that you can disagree with someone and still work with them to find solutions,†he said.

After running unsuccessfully against Mark Bair for Bingham County Commissioner in 2018, the two have found ways to approach concerns in the county. The two work together as members of the Eastern Idaho Regional Wastewater Authority Board. Kelley was appointed by Mayor Stacey Pascoe in 2019 to represent the city’s interests on the board, while Bair represents Bingham County.

“When I came onto the Board, there was a fair amount of acrimony between its members,” Kelley said. “You have to bury the hatchet and find common ground. Our relationship is a lot better now and we are working to form a sewer district in order to make the plant work more efficiently and be financially more secure as it expands,†Kelley said.

He also intends to work with county officials to help development happen responsibly — widening roads, insuring infrastructure, providing walking paths, bike paths and green areas through development agreements and impact fees that will help current residents, as well as newcomers, have a better quality of life.

Besides the potential sewer district, Kelley also supports a recreation district to provide facilities that can be used by county and residents alike.

“I want to keep a good quality of life here, upgrading the lighting downtown and welcoming new businesses. I want to look downfield, and get some things done that will help our kids and grandkids in the future,†Kelley said.

He has experience with development, having served on the board of Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho, during the time that Ball Ventures brought the Golden Valley Natural plant to Shelley. It provides about 500 jobs and has added to the tax base.

Another thing Kelley supports is growing the police force to include an animal control officer and a compliance officer while continuing to reinforce school safety.

Kelley and his wife, Shayla, have three children. Besides his responsibilities with the Community Pioneer, Kelley owns and operates Kelley Real Estate Appraisals, Inc., with a recently relocated office in Shelley. He has been a licensed certified general appraiser for 26 years. He brings a lot of energy to both ventures and said he has equal enthusiasm for the opportunity to serve as a councilman.

Kelley said he thinks the current city council members are doing a great job.

“Though I differed with Earl Beattie on some issues, I thing he did a phenomenal job and I appreciate what he did for our city,†Kelley said. “When the mayor asked me to fill his seat when he moved from the community, I felt it was an honor. Every member of this council works; they put forth a lot of effort on a lot of different fronts, which hasn’t always been the case. I feel very comfortable and confident in every person on the council and I’d love the chance to continue to serve with them.â€

Kelley’s campaign can be followed on his Facebook page.

Local businesswoman Sharylee Shanks is challenging Kelley for the council seat. The election will be held November 2. Early voting begins October 18 and runs through the 29.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jeff Kelley is a part-owner of Community Pioneer. In the interest of objectivity and fairness, he has turned over all editorial control of political reporting to Editor-in-Chief Mike Price. Kelley has no input on any political news coverage from Community Pioneer.

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