swing state ambassador: kelly baker in tallahassee, fl

Tallahassee, Florida 

population: 188,107

2016 Presidential election results: (Leon County) Clinton 60.5%, Trump 35.4%, Johnson 2.9%

Mayor: Andrew Gillum

Kelly J. Baker

Writer and Editor of Women in Higher Education

How many years have you lived in Tallahassee?

Nine years total. We lived in Tallahassee for six years during college and graduate school, and we moved back here three years ago.

What brought you to Tallahassee this time?

My husband and I are both telecommuters, and we wanted to live closer to both of our families who live in the Florida panhandle. We decided on Tallahassee because we enjoyed living here previously.

What do you do on a typical Saturday?

We like to spend part of the day at the Tallahassee Museum, which I first started attending when I was a kid. My eight-year-old daughter and three-year-old son love seeing all of the native wildlife, especially the otters, panthers, and snakes (the snakes are not my favorite). It’s a great museum that allows you wander through Florida’s beautiful wilderness and hosts events like the annual Jazz and Blues Festival. We also like to spend time at Maclay Gardens, the nearby Wakulla Springs, and Cascades Park.

If you had to move tomorrow, what would be your last meal in Tallahassee?

A burger (on a gluten-free bun) and sweet potato fries from Vertigo Burgers and Fries.

What are some exciting things happening in your city in the near future?

I’m excited about all of the new parks, like Cascades, and venues for music and entertainment. Additionally, I’m looking forward to future political action in Tallahassee. There’s a groundswell of local activism about local and national issues and new groups who seek to resist the current political administration. Recently, there have been so many actions, protests, and marches. Our local Women’s March had over 14,000 participants (including my family), so I’m hopeful that Tallahassee residents will continue to be politically aware and active. Bring on the midterm elections!

Do you feel like your community shares in your political beliefs. Are you in a bubble?

Tallahassee tends to be a blue bubble surrounded by a very red north Florida. Overall, the city tends to swing Democratic in elections, and there’s a lot of activism by Democrats in our city. But, Tallahassee is not solely a liberal bubble because there are parts of the city that veer Republican. While I’m involved in activism in Tallahassee, it is not activism coming out of my neighborhood but other parts of the city. Tallahassee only feels like a liberal bubble in certain areas, not the whole of the city.

What is your favorite weekend getaway?

We like to drive to the Parks at Chehaw in Albany, GA to visit the zoo, ride the train, and play on their giant playground. We also like to spend the weekend at Panama City Beach with their beautiful sandy beaches, seafood restaurants, and Gulf World Marine Park, which is my daughter’s favorite place to go.

Why should someone move to your city?

There’s a low cost of living, commitment to excellent schools, temperate climate, wonderful parks and trails, easy access to beaches and other tourist attractions, no state income tax (hooray!), three colleges, low local taxes, and vibrant college town atmosphere. More than that, Tallahassee is the state capitol, which gives us access to state legislators and the ability to protest right on the capitol’s lawn.

You can tweet Kelly about Tallahassee here. @kelly_j_baker

If you would like to become a swing state ambassador, please email swingstatemigrationproject@gmail.com or visit this page.  


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