December 10, 2012 9:58:24 AM
Jeff Clark - [email protected]
The 2013 Columbus municipal election season has begun, with mayor Robert Smith announcing his plans to seek a third term in office. Smith, a Democrat, made his announcement during a press conference at City Hall Monday morning.
"This morning, I humbly ask for your support as I officially announce and seek a third term as mayor of the City of Columbus," Smith said. "As mayor, I did not move this city forward by myself and I must say, we, in many ways have only just begun to realize the potential that our city has to offer."
Smith said his top priority if re-elected is improving quality of life for Columbus residents.
"I also plan to work with the city council, the board of supervisors and the Link to bring about economic development and job creation," Smith said. "I also plan to improve the city's infrastructure and get more money for street paving. I also want to work with Columbus Light and Water to help lower water rates."
When asked why he made the announcement before January, Smith said he did so to stop rumors he was going to replace a high level housing authority employee.
"There have been rumors going around that I was not going to run for mayor again because I was going to replace Earl Weeks as the director of the Columbus Housing Authority," he said. "I have no intentions of doing this, and to my knowledge, Mr. Weeks has no intentions of stepping down. He is doing a fine job with the housing authority."
Smith, a former educator and coach, was originally elected as the councilman for Ward 1 in 2001. He was serving in the capacity of vice mayor when he replaced then-mayor Jeffrey Rupp, who left office in mid-term to run for secretary of state.
In 2009, Smith was opposed by Independent candidate Thom Geiger, whom he defeated in a landslide by almost 3,000 votes.
Qualifying will begin Jan. 2 for candidates planning to run for mayor or city council. The last date to qualify is March 8 at 5 p.m.
The primary election will be Tuesday, May 7, and if a run-off is needed, it will be held May 21. The city's general election will be June 4 and elected officials will be sworn in July 1.
Columbus business owner Bo Jarrett is the only person who has publicly said he is contemplating running against Smith. All six incumbent council members have said they, too, will be seeking reelection next year. Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau board member Whirllie Byrd is rumored to be running against incumbent and Vice Mayor Bill Gavin in Ward 6. Byrd would not comment when asked about her plans to seek office. Marty Turner, of Turner Furniture, and Maurice Webb, of Chris's Car Care, have been rumored to be planning to run against incumbent Fred Stewart in Ward 4. Stewart ran unopposed in 2009. In Ward 2, Susan Mackay has expressed her intention to challenge Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens, who defeated her by 36 votes in 2009. Mackay finished the term of her late husband, Doug Mackay, before losing to Mickens in the general election. Mickens said he is "most definitely seeking reelection."