Today, Kennesaw Patch speaks with Mayor Mark Mathews. Mathews, who has served as mayor since 2008, is up for re-election in the
Mark Mathews has lived in Kennesaw since the day he was born. He attended , and later .
“We actually started dating our senior year in high school,” says Mathews of his wife, Betsy. They married in 1986. Mathews says after they married, they had the opportunity to move to another city, but decided that Kennesaw was the best place to live.
“We chose Kennesaw just because we still knew a lot of people here, and it just felt like home.”
Mathews and his wife, Betsy, have two children together: Nick, who is a freshman at Georgia Tech, and Emily, who is a sophomore at North Cobb.
After high school, Mathews began work with a “spinoff of First Atlanta,” an online check authorization company. He quickly became a ranking employee within his company, and he was often paged to work on large projects for his company.
“At age 18, I would be in California for two weeks working on a project,” says Mathews. He later worked for his parents at their family business, Mathews Abbey Flooring. He and his wife purchased the business from his parents in 2001 and maintained it until 2009.
Today, Mathews works as the Manager of Government Affairs for Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service in Marietta, and Betsy serves as the Special Events Coordinator for
Mathews first took an interest in politics when he served as president of his homeowners’ association in Kennesaw Springs. He maintained this position for 10 years. He says he began attending City Council meetings because his neighbors were coming to him with requests for information about city developments.
In 1995, Mathews was appointed to Kennesaw’s first Downtown Development Authority. “I was in that for a year or so, and decided in ’95 that I would run for City Council,” he says.
Mathews entered office in 1996, and served as a member of the City Council for the next 12 years. After three terms as a councilmember, he decided in 2007 to run for mayor.
Politically, Mathews says he is not registered with any party. He stresses that Kennesaw’s politics are strictly non-partisan: "If we all have a common goal, and a common vision, we should be able to move towards that goal without worrying about what our party says we should do,” says Mathews. “(The city) cannot succeed if we try to go to (partisan) mentality."
Concerning the city, Mathews says the most important issue facing Kennesaw is balancing the tax digest, and that economic development is a huge part of that. He says he is very proud of the city’s performance during the recent economic downturn.
“We had no furloughss, no layoffs, no disasters, no change in quality of life,” he says.
He adds that the city’s ability to weather the economic storm without layoffs or furloughs is entirely thanks to the city’s leaders bracing for the worst of it months in advance.
“We saw the storm coming,” says Mathews. “We saw the clouds on the horizon. We didn’t want to wait until it started raining (to prepare).”
But, he says, it's not over yet.
“The next two years are going to be tough,” says Mathews. “But we’ve weathered the storm, so far, because of the strong commitment of the City Council and the city manager, and all the department heads, to make a very smart choice in going ahead and preparing years in advance.”
Mathews is up for re-election in the upcoming Nov. 8 Kennesaw general election. He announced his candidacy this past January during his . He says partisan politics keeps him from running for higher office.
“I am, right now, extremely happy where I’m at,” he says. “But I never say never.” Mathews says he may consider higher office if the opportunity presents itself and he feels it will benefit the people.
When asked about his retirement plans, he jokes, “Retirement? What is that?” Mathews says he loves what he does, and that he loves living in Kennesaw.
Mathews' message for the citizens of Kennesaw: “Get involved. Research, ask questions, and get to know your local elected officials, because we are here to represent and serve the residents of Kennesaw. The number one thing is just to get involved, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”