A Sense of Service
Moves George Kelley
It all began
when he was a small child. As he watched his father, a minister,work
among his congregation, the dream of following in his footsteps
was born. And over the years, whether it was through his own ministering,
working as a police officer, or now holding the position of alderman
for Ward 4, George Kelley Sr. has made serving his community his
mission in life. Kelley says it's never been important to him
where he has ministered, just that he has ministered. "As long
as I've been able to serve my fellow man, my living has not been
in vain," he says.
That desire to aid others was what drew Kelley to political office.
According to him, it was just the sensible next step. "I saw a
real need among certain members of my community. Some people were
suffering more than others, and those people needed a voice in
our city government," he says. "I decided I wanted to be that
Elected in November of last year, Kelley's first goal in office
is to assess the needs of his constituents so that he can serve
them more efficiently. The next step will be to determine just
how he can go about fulfilling those needs.
Born and raised in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, N.Y.,
Kelley first brought his dream of ministering to others to fruition
by serving as a New York City transit police officer for two years.
He then worked as an officer for the New York City Police Department
for another seven years. During that time, his beat included one
of the toughest communities in Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant. His
time there taught him the importance of creating a strong partnership
between citizens, civic organizations and government to combat
crime and social ills---knowledge that he hopes to put to good
work as an alderman. "I really believe this city council and mayor
have the opportunity to be one of the most accomplished in the
city's history," he says. And Kelley plans on making it one of
his priorities to ensure that they are.
In the late 1980s, Kelley and his wife, Wanda, decided it was
time to seek a slower and quieter environment in which to raise
their young family. As he searched for a new job, he looked to
the south and stumbled onto Annapolis. "I heard about available
jobs in the Annapolis Police Department and decided to check them
out," he says. After talking to the recruiter and being interviewed,
Kelley took a long hard look at the city and liked what he saw.
Says Kelley, "The people were very friendly. The city as a whole
just had a friendly atmosphere that attracted me."
Married for 24 years this July, Kelley and his wife were high
school sweethearts. "I first saw her when she was dancing in a
talent show. Right then I knew that she was the one for me." After
dating for several years, they were married. He said it might
have been her striking beauty that attracted him at first, but
her sensitivity and their ability to communicate is what has kept
the relationship strong over the years.
The proud parent of one son and two daughters, Kelley sees parenting
as a way in which you can leave a piece of yourself behind in
this world. "With your children and grandchildren, you are able
to keep a little bit of yourself---some of your thoughts, ideas
and emotions---alive even after you are long gone. My family will
be my most important legacy," he says. Kelley especially enjoys
being a grandfather. Isaiah, who is 2 years old and the newest
addition to his family, is the joy of his and his wife's life.
Even though his work as a police officer has meant a lot to Kelley,
he sees himself first as a preacher and that is why, soon after
coming to Annapolis, he founded the Praise and Deliverance Tabernacle
Church in the Clay Street community. Each Sunday, he offers the
residents of the area a prayer hour. "I like to see my ministry
as a filling station for the people of Clay Street," he says.
"They come in on empty and after an hour of prayer with us they
are able to fill up their engine with love. Then they can leave
feeling like they have a full tank to get them through the week."
That same sense of helping others feel better about themselves
and their station in life is the driving force behind one of Kelley's
major goals as alderman of Ward 4. During his term, he would like
to see an increase in the economic and educational level of his
community. "I would like to give them the tools to make them self
sufficient," he says. "Over the next four years, I would like
to start developing such things as educational classes, computer
training programs and grants so they can learn to help themselves."
To help create these programs, Kelley hopes to draw in aid from
all entities of the city, government, private citizens and businesses.
"It's the right time for something like this to happen in Annapolis,"
he says. "It's needed."
Before being elected alderman, Kelley spent 14 years as a member
of the Annapolis Police Department. Upon taking office as alderman,
however, he decided it was best to retire so there would be no
conflict of interest. In February this year, Kelley took a position
as Police Officer II with the Maryland Department of General Services.
This state agency is responsible for patrolling and protecting
state grounds. "It's a big difference from the city department,"
says Kelley. "It's a much slower pace." But he admits that, since
the events of September 11, the importance of ensuring the safety
of our government, both the people and the buildings, has never
been more crucial.
Having quiet time to himself in prayer and meditation is how Kelley
likes to spend his few precious moments of free time. But even
then, he is thinking of others. He says that through this time
of contemplation he would love to develop a more clear-cut direction
for himself and a better understanding of human nature in general.
"I would love to be able to get to the heart of man. I also would
love to learn how to reach others and how to speak to one's own
soul," he says. Kelley compares this to when Solomon asked God
for wisdom and understanding. "That would be my greatest wish,"