Bill Kelly is a write-in contender for Nueces County Commissioners Court and he might be able to pull it off.
For most write-in candidates you would be right to say it is a longshot, but most of them don’t have name recognition or much experience. But Bill Kelly is different.
“I’ve set aside my own personal ambitions for this,” Kelly told me during a candid interview. “My intentions were to be a judge but I’m more concerned for the community than my own ambitions.”
Bill Kelly is an attorney, he serves as a member of the Calallen ISD Board—Bill Kelly is by far not a political outsider and that’s what could make him a viable candidate. He also served on Corpus Christi City Council. Like any legitimate contender for anything Bill Kelly believes that he can pull it off.
“I’ve learned a lot from serving on the school board and city council,” Kelly said from his library table at his downtown Corpus Christi office. “I’ve transitioned my practice to more meditation and that’s one skill that I feel can help the community.”
Three things that you learn pretty quick about Bill Kelly is that he is a listener, a talker and that he isn’t alone in his service to his community.
His wife, Evon, has been by his side quietly supporting him every step of the way. Their natural chemistry is obvious when they are together and her support for him was even more obvious while she went about her errands tidying up the office and listening to the conversation just one room away. You quickly learn that this is a family journey—one that almost seems to compliment perfectly the other. It’s obvious that it’s not only Bill, but more like the two of them working for a common cause.
The seat on Commissioners Court is being vacated by republican Carolyn Vaughn who is running for mayor of Corpus Christi. Vaughn’s departure from Commissioners Court in Precinct One could in the eyes of many leave a seat wide open for Democrat control. Bill Kelly believes that his role is not about the politics but more about the people.
“When I was on council I learned that people in one side of the District would say that they wanted their streets fixed, then people in another part of the District said the same thing a different way,” Kelly said. “But they all just wanted their streets fixed.”
“For eight years I represented all of the neighborhoods in District One are also in Precinct One,” he points out. “So a lot of the people who live in Precinct One I have have represented for eight years.”
“I wasn’t kidding when I said that it was important enough to go and put my personal ambitions aside,” he says. “I known that if I am elected here, given my age, that I will probably never be a judge. It’s important enough to me to take that chance.”
But Bill Kelly obviously understands the difference between being a member of city council, serving on the school board and potentially serving as a Nueces County Commissioner. Just ask him about unfunded mandates that could come down from the state.
“We have two really good legislators here and I’ve confronted them about unfunded mandates,” Kelly said. “Sometimes it just seems like it is falling on deaf ears.”
“When you tell me that you are lowering taxes tell me you’re lowering state taxes, not other governments taxes,”Kelly said. “Then you can come and brag about it otherwise you’re just creating problems.”
He realizes that this race is more than about just a seat on the court but more about what happens when the state likely slams counties with more burden next year as budgets get slashed and lawmakers attempt to pass those burdens down the pipe to the local level.
One thing Kelly will have to do is create working relationships with the other members of the court. Is that even possible? Kelly doesn’t believe it’s possible at all—he knows it is.
“I served on council with Brent Chesney and John Marez,” he says referring to his time of community service between 2001 and 2009 as councilman from District one. “There is a relationship there.”
As far as working with Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales, Kelly doesn’t seem to see that being much of a problem either and he’s quick to not second guess her without all of the information that commissioners are privy to have. Perhaps it is that understanding that the court needs in light of the now almost commonplace contention.
But this isn’t going to be an easy win even for somebody like Kelly who is loved in his community and has name recognition to back him up. In this fight Bill Kelly can’t do all of the work—his supporters are going to have to meet him halfway.
To cast their vote for Kelly supporters will have to simply write in his name on the ballot if voting by mail. Voting at the both will require a few more steps including selecting “write-in” and typing in his name and clicking submit. All-in-all a simple process, and vital one if Kelly is going to pull this off.
But beyond all that Bill and Evon Kelly never strike you as people who feel entitled to their status in their community. The deep feeling that you get is that they both just want to do their part. With Bill anxiously waiting for the results, Evon you know will be there either way and together they’ll standby waiting for their opportunity to serve the community that has given them so much together.