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Ches Helmick has put his name in the hat for this year’s Galax City Council election on May 6.
He is the only political newcomer in a field of five candidates for a spot among four available seats. All four incumbents are seeking re-election.
Helmick is a financial advisor for the Edward Jones branch at 120 W. Grayson Street in downtown Galax.
Although he is a newcomer to this political aspects of the city, he has established himself through his business and his many other community involvements outside his work hours.
Helmick moved to Galax three years ago from Lynchburg, where he had received a degree from Liberty University. “I was a double major in business management and finance there,” he said.
He first became attracted to the city because of the job opportunity, but the community itself, he says, was its selling point. “I was impressed by the type of people that make up the community here, and their way of life.”
After settling in, he quickly became involved with a number of organizations. He has served on the Galax Downtown Association, the United Way board and the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts board. He has also coached soccer, served on the Boy Scouts board and participated in multiple church dramas at First Baptist Church of Galax.
When making the decision to run for council, he explained that the idea had come from someone else at first. “Multiple people had brought it up, and asked me to do it… but then I chose to run based on a mindset of serving. I believe that God has given me certain talents, and for me to be able to be a voice for the residents of the community would allow me to use them,” he told The Gazette.
With a trained focus on business, Helmick hopes to bring the mindset of a business owner to the table to assist the rest of council in making decisions to boost the economy. He believes that the experiences he’s had with the community during his time here have been a great help to him, and would continue to be a great help because of the connection it has given him to other families in this area.
“I have gotten to experience different perspectives from different organizations, and I’ve had the opportunity to see where some of our needs are,” he said.
A few choice projects he is already interested in discussing have been inspired by his talks with community members. So far, he is interested in exploring a number of maintenance projects, including the area’s flooding issues, road maintenance, power outages, stop light timing and the lack of a recycling program in the city limits.
He also wants to have a role in providing more activities and outdoor resources for recreational purposes.
“We need more of a focus on activities for families, like the aquatic center [proposed for the Galax Recreation Center], or a dog park,” he said.
But his biggest focus is to see the city become a more a sustainable financial environment, with more jobs and a better economy. “I want us to create an environment where our children and grandchildren aren’t forced to move away to find work,” he said.
To do that, he says he is willing to ask the harder questions and work together with other council members to help move the city forward.
Although he continues to be involved with the community as much as he can, Helmick hopes that this new opportunity will allow him to make an even bigger difference.
“I think that the city is doing a good job, and I would be honored to have the opportunity to bring my talents in order to assist them in continuing to move forward,” he said.
Elections will be held on May 6.