Where were you born and raised?
Gadsden has always been home for me.
What is your occupation?
City administration. For those that don’t know what that entails, come spend a day at city hall working in the mayor’s office with me. You’ll either love it or hate it, but you won’t be bored!
What made you decide to work in your field?
I’ve always believed that the best way for me to have an impact on my community is through public service in local government. I started working for the city when I was a teenager. I was summer help at Noccalula Falls, which was a treat. After college, I eventually went to work in the Planning and Engineering Departments, where I really got to see the fruits of my labor and my education. After working in the mayor’s office and getting to deal with so many different people out in the community, I can’t imagine doing anything else and feeling the same satisfaction.
Tell us about your family and pets.
I’ve been married to Katie for almost seven years. We have two little boys. Henry just turned 5, and Meade will be 1 in January. Katie leads the music for the 8:30 service at our church, teaches a couple of days a week at First Methodist’s Early Learning Center, and takes care of our boys, me, and the dog. Both my mom and my mother-in-law live in Gadsden as well.
Describe an average day in your life.
There’s no such thing as average, so let’s just talk about today. I’m greeted every morning about 6 a.m. by Henry, who is an early riser. He is a creature of habit if there ever has been one, so we go through the same routine every morning, including the ceremonial sendoff for daddy. Today is Tuesday, so that means I spent most of the morning in city council meetings, which you can view on Comcast Channel 99 in lieu of a good book! The highlight of my afternoon was a bid opening. That may sound boring, but I’ve been waiting on this project for over two years. The city is going to construct a suspension bridge over Black Creek down below Noccalula Falls near Cascade Creek. There’s not another bridge like this that I’m aware of in the entire State of Alabama. On top of it being just a really cool structure, you’ll soon be able to hike behind the waterfall and make a complete loop, crossing Black Creek and back to the gorge entrance near the petting zoo. Finally, I’ll head over to the Hardin Center for a Cultural Arts board meeting, which will wrap up the workday. My wife is a fantastic cook, so I’ll be anxious to get home and see what’s for dinner. If Henry’s been a good boy, we’ll likely have to wrestle a little before bedtime.
What school or schools have you attended?
I am a 1995 graduate of Emma Sansom High School. I gra-duated from Auburn University in 2000 with a degree in Public Administration. I have Masters Degree in both Business and Public Administration from Jacksonville State University.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I always like to have a project. We just bought a house, so I’ve enjoyed all the little projects that go along with making it your own. My wife has the designer’s eye, so I get to be the worker bee.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
My family is my greatest accomplishment. To have a spouse that loves and supports you and healthy and happy children, that’s enough for me. Second to that would be my work. I get to work with some great people every day, and we’ve been able to really do some great things for Gadsden.
Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why? There’s no way I could name just one.
To what do you credit your success?
Perseverance. Sometimes it takes me a long time to make any headway at a task, but once I say ‘yes,’ I’m committed to see the thing through.I also think that being authentic is a major factor. It may take awhile, but people see through an imitation, even a really good one.
Are you involved in any service organizations?
I am currently serving as Pre-sident of the United Way, which has been a great year with the move to a newly remodeled facility near the library. I serve on the board of Downtown Gadsden, Inc., the Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association, the Etowah County 911 Board, the City of Gadsden Planning Commission, the Gadsden Cultural Arts Foundation, and formerly a deacon at my church, Rainbow Presbyterian.
What is your favorite thing about this community?
Gadsden is fortunate to have lots of good people that love their hometown. I think this shows.
What would you like to see change in the community? It’s not really the community, it’s humanity. I’ve had to work at being less critical of others. In an effort to do so, I’d advocated for less talking and more listening.
What are three words that describe you?
Katie says I am driven, trustworthy, and witty. That’s funny because she normally says I’m not funny!
What is something surprising that many do not know about you?
I like to dance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely horrible, but that’s never stopped me from enjoying it.
What is your favorite quote?
“Those that speak, don’t know; those that know, don’t speak.” In my line of work, I get to hear all sorts of fiction being recounted as truth. It’s hard not to speak up, but you just can’t always do so.
What is on your bucket list?
I would give my left pinky (toe) to be able to play piano by ear!
What is your hidden talent? I love to operate heavy equipment at the farm. I can run a dozer or backhoe with the best of them. Also, I’m better than I should be with a chainsaw. In fact, for a short time I was known as “Shanesaw” Ellison.
If a movie were made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Well, me of course.
What advice would you give yourself as a child?
Enjoy your childhood. Be less serious and get in trouble a little more. Slow down and enjoy time with family; they won’t be around forever. I probably need to tell our oldest son, Henry, these things. The second born shouldn’t have any trouble getting in trouble.