Eaton Chiropractic sits on a quaint corner on Main Street in downtown Kennesaw as a passing train wails by along the tracks across the street.
Chiropractor and Councilwoman Cris-Eaton Welsh says she and her family members are train enthusiasts, evident in the framed photos of locomotives, a model train set that chugs along high above the office and a kids' chiropractic table painted like a train.
As a mother of two, a 22-year city resident and a downtown business owner, Eaton-Welsh says she's personally experienced the strong sense of community that binds Kennesaw together.
Brick by Brick
Eaton-Welsh says in 2000, the family business purchased the old brick building across from City Hall. Built in 1865, “the bricks handmade and fired in Kennesaw,” the building had been the city’s original General Store.
Eaton-Welsh says they put “every penny” into the investment.
“Three days after we purchased that building, the entire north wall fell off and came into the street,” she says.
She says their State Farm agent at the time “showed up with blue jeans and a t-shirt” ready to get to work. Over the course of the next four to six weeks, she says patients and community members gathered together in an effort to save that piece of Kennesaw history.
“Our patients showed up for pizza and beer, cleaned all the bricks, stacked all the bricks—and we saved as much as we possibly could,” says Eaton-Welsh.
“If the community had not come around to be so helpful, that could have been a huge tragedy. That could have been either torn down or put back together real bad,” says Eaton-Welsh.
“That building is gonna stand.”
Business and Politics
“I had never intended to do something on this side of politics,” says Eaton-Welsh. As a chiropractor and business owner, she says she didn’t want Eaton Chiropractic to become a “second City Hall” due to its proximity to the government building.
She had even advised her father not to run for City Council when he was considering it years ago.
“But two and a half years ago, the city was hit with a racial discrimination lawsuit,” says Eaton-Welsh. Upon obtaining and reading a full copy of the lawsuit, she says, “It enraged me. I could not believe that this had been going on in our community.”
“This isn’t the Kennesaw that I know. This isn’t the Kennesaw that I love."
Eaton-Welsh previously served on the city’s Development Authority. With her election to Kennesaw City Council, she has served as liaison to the Community Development Department, the Downtown Development Authority and the Environmental Committee.
“I think when you take this position as a servant position, rather than a position to be served, people really see your intent and they appreciate it,” says Eaton-Welsh, noting that a council member really only has one job—to go out, find what the community wants and needs, and serve as a liaison between the public and the city manager.
Communication is paramount, she says. She regularly blogs about the city's progress and communicates with constituents through her Facebook page.
She also notes how communication helped bust a pill mill that had set up shop in town in 2010. A constituent reported suspicious out-of-state cars, and a nearby Walgreens had run out of oxycontin.
Eaton-Welsh, in turn, reported the concerns to the Kennesaw Police Department. She says the culprits were arrested within two weeks.
While she says she enjoys her work as a councilwoman, she makes it a point to keep her political and business lives separate. During work hours, she is strictly a chiropractor focused on the work at hand.
On the Issues
Eaton-Welsh says she decided to run for re-election to see some of the downtown projects she has helped shape come to fruition.
"If the shovels had already been in the dirt for those, I wasn’t going to run," she says.
Eaton-Welsh says the city has moved forward in the past two years. She says some of these accomplishments include: two purpose-built student housing facilities annexed into the city, assembling 7.5 acres for Camp McDonald Park, the expansion of Trackside Grill and recent negotiations to build a state-of-the-art skate park in Swift-Cantrell Park.
She says right now, the city is in the final stages of due diligence with the developer who is going to put a four-story parking garage in downtown Kennesaw.
When it comes to the TSPLOST, a regional 1-cent transportation sales tax that voters will decide on next year, Eaton-Welsh says she does support it.
Eaton-Welsh says she has no desire to be a career politician and that this will most likely be her last term if she is re-elected.
"I love serving. But I want to be there for my girls. I want to be selfish," she says.
She says she and her husband enjoy taking their daughters, Isabelle and Shelby, out for ice cream in their 1959 Dodge Coronet. The couple also enjoys riding together on their pair of Harley Davidsons.
"Everybody wants Kennesaw to be an amazing place. But you have to tell the story," says Eaton-Welsh. "The story is actually making Kennesaw one of the best places in the southeast to live, to work and to raise a family."