Walker, who ran unopposed, will take his seat on the City Council on Jan. 6 replacing Councilman Johnny Sinclair, who opted not to run for another term.
“I feel like it’s all about building relationships,” Walker said.
A Realtor by trade, Walker has served as a freelance photographer for the city’s schools over the last decade, and he said during that time he’s gotten to know students, parents and teachers. Those connections have put the city’s school system close to his heart, he said.
“I just think the city and the school system need to have a great working relationship because our schools are very important here,” Walker said. “If you have good, strong schools, you’re going to have good, strong communities and neighborhoods. They kind of go together.”
Walker wants to serve as the city’s liaison to the school board.
“Johnny would be a good one,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin.
The council doesn’t have an official liaison to the school board, Tumlin said, but outgoing Councilwoman Annette Lewis, who once served on the city school board, serves as an informal go-between.
“Communication doesn’t always have to be formal,” Tumlin said.
Tumlin supports strengthening ties between the two boards and said what’s good for the city should be good for the school board and vice versa.
“Whether it’s the Franklin Road project … or it’s annexation, everything we deal with affects the school system,” Tumlin said.
Strong local family ties
Walker has deep roots in Marietta.
His family owned a clothing store called Johnny Walker’s on the Square until it closed in 1990.
Johnny Walker Homes, a government housing project, was named after his grandfather.
“I feel like I’m like him,” Walker said. “I’ve always wanted to help people.”
Those ties, he said, give him a good understanding of the needs of the community.
“His family business was right there gene-rations before him on the Marietta Square,” Tumlin said. “I would like to say the Marietta blue runs through his blood. He knows our city backwards and forwards.”
Walker points to the previous work of the current council on issues like the $68 million redevelopment bond targeting Franklin Road passed earlier this year in a referendum and the $25 million parks bond passed by voters in 2009.
It’s those efforts Walker says he wants to continue.
“I think families need to have good, safe parks to go to,” he said.
Another issue he’ll be looking to take on is improvements to Whitlock Avenue that will also be funded by the $68 million redevelopment bond.
Walker said there will be some logistical challenges to streetscaping along Whitlock.
Traffic on the feeder street into downtown is already heavy during rush hour and the construction could make it worse for a time. But Walker hopes to keep residents and nearby property owners involved in the process.
The Johnny Walker file:
Family: Married to Kim for 3 years; stepdaughter Patton, age 15
Education: Mercer University
Previous political experience: Downtown Marietta Development Authority board and Historic Board of Review