Service to his community has long been the standard he measures himself by, Adam Kirtley said.

The Walla Walla City Council candidate for the Central Ward has been a chaplain at Whitman College for 15 years and recently completed his tenure as president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains. While in that position, he led a merger of two chaplain organizations to best pool resources.

Before working at Whitman, Kirtley served as executive director of Blue Mountain Heart to Heart and taught high school. He was ordained in Protestant ministry after graduating with high honors from Emory University in Atlanta.

Since moving to Walla Walla, Kirtley has worked on numerous local committees and volunteered for organizations that focus on improving quality of life for people, such as the Christian Aid Center and Walla Walla Warming Center.

As a musician — he’s played guitar and sang with his band, Rogue Lobster, for about eight years — Kirtley has helped raise money for scholarships for those who work in the town’s service industry and their dependents.

Entering the City Council race, starting with the primary election Aug. 3, comes at what he sees as a critical time in his chosen community.

“This is an important time for Walla Walla’s future. There are some impactful decisions to be made by the city,” Kirtley said, listing as examples having enough affordable housing and expanding on the “good work” done through a task force assembled by Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber.

Tackling such issues requires building relationships and being able to navigate different perspectives and worldviews, Kirtley said.

And that takes a willingness to do the homework, he said, and doing a deep dive to familiarize himself with issues and meeting with community partners to make truly informed decisions.

It is important not to enter City Council in an agenda-driven way, he pointed out, but with an eagerness to learn.

“I believe I have the skill set that matches up with that nicely.”

Walla Walla has been home to the Kirtley family for more than 20 years, and that now includes Adam and Jenn Kirtley’s parents, who have moved here. The couple has two teenagers and live on University Street.

Adam Kirtley said he intends to be a good steward of the city.

“I want my work on the Council to foster a strong sense of community. Affordable housing, for example, isn’t simply a financial issue. When families and individuals are burdened to afford a place to live, they are less likely to engage in the community in other important ways, from shopping to volunteering to simply enjoying an evening out with friends and family,” he said.

“I want to strive for an inclusive community, one that acknowledges the important contributions and sacrifices of immigrant and indigenous peoples. I want to ensure that our downtown corridor stays strong — an economic and cultural cornerstone to our city.”

Kirtley said his service to the city will include taking steps to keep Walla Walla a safe community, where those suffering from addiction, mental illness and homelessness are treated with dignity and connected to appropriate resources, as well as ensure law enforcement is resourced to respond to criminal activity.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers health, social services and city government in Milton-Freewater, Athena and Weston in the Walla Walla Valley.

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