CUMMING -- It’s been a busy year for Cumming City Councilman Chuck Welch, but he’s also looking to the past and future for inspiration.
In July, he was sworn into his Post 1 seat, following a special election in June to fill the unexpired term of Rupert Sexton, who stepped down to enjoy retirement. With that, Welch became the first new permanent council member in more than 20 years.
Now, he is moving into a new business after selling another.
Welch’s time with the council goes much further back than 2015, as his father, the late Charles Welch Sr., served the city council from 1973-86 before also serving on the Forsyth County commission.
A Cuming native, Welch is also looking toward the city’s future.
Question: This has been a pretty busy year for you, how did it go?
Answer: “This year has been fantastic. We’ve done a lot of things. I was the founder of a local bank, Community and Business Bank, and we sold the bank in May. I bought a decent-sized plumbing contractor. So I sold a business and bought a business.
“I also ran for city council which was unexpected … I’m thankful that I won that election, and I’m enjoying learning the ropes as a city councilman.”
Q: Is there anything that has surprised you so far about your time on the council?
A: “It’s a learning process. Anytime you join a group of people who have been doing something for 25 to 30 plus years and you’re the new guy, you want to learn and listen as much as you can. You want to make sure that you’re making thoughtful decisions that are beneficial for the city of Cumming and the residents that live in it.
“I think any newly elected official would tell you that it takes a little more time than you think it does and there’s a pretty steep learning curve, but I’m loving every minute of it.
“I want to do a really good job and be good at what I do, and so I’m just trying to absorb as much as I can. The amount of time it takes has probably been the biggest shock.”
Q: How would you say being a second generation councilman has shaped your view of the city’s governing body?
A: “It’s been nice because I had some idea of what goes into doing the job. I watched my dad do it and, obviously, it’s different when you actually get to do the job.
“But it’s been great, because my dad was an elected official serving the people most of my life until he passed away. I grew up in a house where it was instilled in me from the time I was born that you had to give back to your community, you want to be an active member of your community, you want to participate.
“But that also means that I always knew I wanted to be one of the decision makers and one of the leaders in the community. It finally worked out where I could run for council, and I just want to do as good a job as I can.”
Q: Now that you are getting established, is there anything you’re looking to accomplish moving forward?
A: “What’s on my mind moving forward is just making sure that we’re just very thoughtful and deliberate as we start talking about redevelopment of the city.
“We’re going to go through another evolutionary phase where there is going to be a lot of changes in the city in the next five to 10 years, and you want to make sure that you did proper planning and you want to make sure that we evaluate the feasibility of what is going to happen.
“We just want to make sure that we’re thoughtful in how we handle the projects. The city of Cumming has not had a city property tax for a very long time, and we just want to make sure that we maintain the financial standards that the city has always had in place over the last 40 years.”
Q: Moving away from the city council, what are some other things you’re involved with in the community?
A: “I’ve been in Rotary for 15 years, I’m a past president of the club. I love being in Rotary Club because you have a lot of leaders in the community and our club was the first Rotary Club in Forsyth County. We do a lot of good service projects every year and it’s a great group of folks to be associated with.
“I’m the chairman of the board for the local Forsyth County [Division of Family and Children Services]. I’ve really enjoyed that because it’s different than anything I’ve been involved with in the past.
“You’re dealing directly with the welfare of children in your community to make sure that we’re helping children in their time of need. The biggest thing we’ve done is that is whenever I got on the board there were only three foster families in Forsyth County and today there’s approximately 40 families.
“It really just makes you feel good when you can see things happening that directly benefits children that are often times in a very bad situation and you know that the people that are trying to help them are actually able to get that done a lot of time.”
Q: Finally, what is something about you that readers may find fascinating?
A: “My mother has Alzheimer’s and she’s now in assisted living in a memory unit … I’m looking into creating some kind of Alzheimer’s nonprofit. I know a lot of folks in Cumming and Forsyth County are dealing with the same issue.
“It seems to be the number of people that have it is growing and I just think it’s one of those things that isn’t getting the recognition locally that it probably needs.”