Broadcasting Skills Help Gilkey As Mayor

Mayor KayDee Gilkey (Ag Information Network of the West, Fairfield, WA) puts down her gavel as mayor to pick up her mike as a farm broadcaster. She is shown in her broadcaster role doing an interview with Ken Cook, President and Co-Founder of the Environmental Working Group. KayDee’s job as mayor is part-time, but she also serves as city administrator of her town (Fairfield, WA). “I implement town policies and processes; am responsible for hiring and managing of four town employees; preside over city council meetings; am responsible for overseeing a $1.2 million budget; represent the town at county and regional meetings; work with and direct volunteers; address citizens’ questions and concerns and work to resolve issues,” she explains. Where did she learn the skills to be mayor? Having grown up in both 4-H and FFA, leadership and service to her community have always been an important part of her life. “My husband, Todd, and I moved to Fairfield, a small farm community in the Palouse region of Washington, in 2003. Two years later, my neighbor encouraged me to run for City Council.” She did, was elected and spent the next six years on Fairfield’s City Council. “It was a good way to meet my neighbors and other community members. From the beginning, I was impressed with how this small town had such a big heart for its community members. Fairfield has a population of about 600 people and is known as the town that celebrates Flag Day. It also holds the honor of being the only town in the country to have a Flag Day celebration and parade every year since 1905.”

KayDee began her role as a farm broadcaster in December 2011 with Ag Information Network of the West. “The opportunity to return to radio was exciting as I’d done radio production for two years while at Washington State University and had really enjoyed it. My new position was working from home, which allowed me much more flexibility and time as I didn’t have a 40-minute commute twice a day.” How did she become Mayor?  “In 2012, the Mayor of Fairfield had served three-terms and had decided to not run again. He encouraged me to run for his position, so she did and began her term in January of the next year.” She believes her farm broadcasting skills have assisted her as mayor. “Communication skills are critical regardless of your role as a leader, and writing nearly 1,000 words a day for three daily programs has really sharpened my writing skills. Since my radio programs are only 90 seconds long, I’ve become more efficient in listening and finding the main issue or topic and boiling it down,” she explained. “As a farm broadcaster, I’ve always had a passion for agriculture, but now with my role as mayor, stories about rural communities also are important to me. Most anyone who lives in a small town can appreciate knowing many in your community and watching how your community rallies behind those in need with so much support and love.” She concludes, “I’m always amazed to witness the outpouring of time, treasure and talent when someone in the community needs help.”