Former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell has decided not to run for the Gainesville City Council.
Bell had announced his intention to seek to represent Gainesville’s Ward 1, the position currently held by Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan. Dunagan has said he is vacating his City Council position to run for re-election as mayor.
Bell cited changes in the city’s qualifications to run for City Council seats. He considered running for mayor, but decided that wasn’t something he and his family wanted to do.
He said he will sit out this election cycle, but there are future political opportunities he may consider. He didn’t specify what those would be.
“We are going to enjoy this time off, just staying in (the) private sector, doing community service and helping out,” Bell said. “We’re not going to be on a ballot this year.”
Ward 1 and Ward 4 seats are up for election this year. This is also the first year Gainesville residents will elect a mayor.
The new mayor plan keeps the council’s current election structure intact, calling for the citywide election of five council members from each of the city’s wards and a continued two-year rotation of mayor pro tempore. But it adds a sixth seat to the council: An at-large mayor elected from any of the five wards.
Bell is a partner with Bell & Washington LLP, a law firm with offices in Gainesville, Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala. He also started a campaign consultancy firm, Daylight Solutions LLC, in 2012.
County Commissioners Scott Gibbs and Craig Lutz have paid the company for services involving fundraising, according to their recent campaign finance reports.
Qualifying for mayor and council seats is set for Aug. 26-28. The fee is $35 for mayor and $621 for council member.