Shirley McKellar, 71, says her extensive experience living and serving the Tyler community makes her the right choice for Tyler City Council.
McKellar grew up near the intersection of Loop 323 and Texas Highway 110 in Tyler, where her father owned a rose-growing business.
“I think that as a City Council person or any elected official we should work in the community even before becoming an elected official,” she said.
McKellar is retired and volunteers at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Dallas, and in feeding homeless Tylerites with Church Under a Bridge.
A U.S. Army veteran and registered nurse, McKellar said she was the first African American to start a home-health agency in Tyler. From 1985 to 2005, she ran the Kids Creative Learning Academy, a nonprofit organization, on Front Street.
McKellar has degrees in different fields, including a bachelor’s from Texas Woman’s University, a second bachelor’s from the University of Texas at Tyler, a master's in interdisciplinary studies from UT Tyler and a doctorate from Columbus State University.
“My parents used to tell us whatever you do, be the very best at it, but be very educated at it first,” McKellar said.
She said she always takes classes to better herself. “Education is important to me. It’s the key. And if more people educated themselves, they would understand their surroundings in government.”
McKellar said the biggest issue in the district is jobs and growth. She would like to increase business development. She said that means talking to people and asking them to come to Tyler. She said she and her supporters already have sent letters to major national companies.
“I’m always talking to people about bringing businesses to Tyler, Texas,” she said. “I have to drive outside of north Tyler to go supermarket shopping. The closest one to me is Aldi’s over there on the West Loop, going toward the airport, and it shouldn’t be.”
She said there are plenty of places in the district that can be developed, and that not all of it is in a designated flood plain. Additionally, she said developers in the district have built drainage infrastructure in appropriate places in order to use land in designated flood plains.
“I know that there are some flood areas, but there are some flood areas in all parts of the city of Tyler, so we cannot use that as an excuse,” McKellar said. “There’s places where you can build businesses. … I look at it basically as an excuse or you just haven’t taken enough interest in building things in north Tyler.”
If elected, McKellar said she would hold town hall meetings every quarter, and a good place to bring people together is at churches. She said she prefers group meetings to one-on-one meetings, but she also believes in knocking on doors to stay engaged.
She also said she views the position as an advocate for the district, and she wants the people in the district to know that they’re important, and that if elected they would have a City Council member they could depend upon.
“A city councilperson should be negotiating and working for the area that you’re elected to— because why are you elected if you’re not working for the greater good of the people who are working for that district?” McKellar said.
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