Women of Action: Kauchick reassesses after running for mayor

Lavette Williams, Editor-in-Chief

The Mitchell-West Center for Social Inclusion, Women’s Center, and Community Service and Outreach have co-sponsored “Women of Action.” 

“Women of Action” is a web series that they say seeks to highlight the achievements of women in the Shoals Community in the areas of civic engagement, education, business, and leadership. 

Since September, “Women of Action” has held free zoom classes featuring guest speakers who have made an impact in their community. 

The April class featured Chelsea Kauchick. 

Kauchick is a lifelong resident of the Shoals area and an alumni at University of North Alabama. She has served for six years as the Director of Marketing and Leadership Programs at the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, where she championed both aspiring youths and professional adults to take pride in their community and achieve ideas bigger than themselves. 

Following the coronavirus outbreak, Kauchick realized that the City of Muscle Shoals did not have the proper leadership and communication on ways to keep its citizens safe.

“When COVID hit, I waited to hear some kind of direction and [when] it didn’t come, that was a big factor in me saying, ‘This isn’t right,’” said Kauchick. 

This spurred Kauchick to leave her job at the Shoals Chamber and to run for Mayor of Muscle Shoals. 

“I absolutely loved my job,” Kauchick said. “To leave [Shoals Chamber], that was the scariest thing that I could ever think to do.”

Kauchick said she knew she had to run when Mayor Bradford announced that he was not running again. She did not want someone else to get in office and “be complacent.”

“I knew that this was my one window,” Kauchick said. 

Shortly after deciding, Kauchick told her daughter about her decision, and her response was Kauchick’s inspiration throughout her campaign. 

“[My daughter] said, ‘I didn’t know girls could be mayors,’” Kauchick said. “There’s never been a female mayor and since last year, we haven’t had a female that’s serving on city council. Knowing that my daughter hasn’t witnessed that, that was an indication that I was going to show her that [females] can do this and we can do it better.”

While she was running, Kauchick learned quickly that not all of her friends were as supportive as you thought they would be. She used this as an opportunity to make new friends.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of is that I went to every single home and apartment building in the city, and I put a hanger on their door with information about me,” Kauchick said. “My tagline was ‘The Sound of the People’ because [I wanted to give] people an opportunity to speak … and [listened] to what they wanted to see in the community. That was so refreshing to me.”

But perhaps, one of the hardest lessons that Kauchick learned is to love what you do, but never become it. 

Kauchick said after she did not win, she did not know who she was. 

“I [had] ran for mayor,” She said. “Now, what? I didn’t have a job and I didn’t leave any opportunity for me to work for the city. I needed that time to retreat and reassess myself.”

After retreating, Kauchick eventually got back into the job market.

“It was hard,” Kauchick said. “I had zero confidence in myself. When I started doing interviews, I started having panic attacks and [had to] get on medication to calm my nerves.”

Kauchick said she must have done something right because she got hired. Although, the first few weeks of the job, she still had that feeling that they did not hire the right person. 

Finally, when putting together a huge product launch at her job, everything came back.

“I just felt myself again,” Kauchick said. “I pushed the whole world away from me and focused on this one thing. I’m very grateful for it. It took a lot of time and energy.”

Kauchick also has got back into giving to the community.

She went to city council meetings, where she began working on a curbside recycling initiative. She also began serving on the Board of Directors for One Place of the Shoals. 

“This has all been a transformational journey for me since the election until now,” Kauchick said. “ It [took] time. You’ve got to allow yourself time to grieve. Then, you put on your big girl panties and you move on because there’s a lot of things out there that still needs your attention.”

Her parting advice to those who face adversity is to learn from your failures. 

“You just got to keep going,” Kauchick said. “You’ve got to know that there’s life after this. It’s just a matter of taking it one day at a time.”