Gainesville Councilwoman Ruth Bruner has seen a number of changes in her 12 years representing Ward 5.
For example, Bruner said residents are as active as ever in local politics, generating enthusiasm and support for new projects, initiatives and planning.
“A lot of times you don’t see that,” she said. “It’s really a good community to work in.”
But the biggest change could be on the horizon as Bruner, who is running unopposed this November for another four-year term, is poised to assume a bigger leadership role in city government due to the pending retirement of longtime council members Myrtle Figueras and Bob Hamrick.
“One priority will be helping to bring up to speed the new City Council members,” Bruner said about her expectations in the coming months. “There’s going to be a lot of changes coming in.”
Four candidates are vying to replace Figueras in the Ward 3 campaign, and two candidates are running for the Ward 2 seat held by Hamrick.
Together, Figueras and Hamrick have 66 years of experience serving on the council. Their departures mean a lot of “institutional knowledge” is heading out the door.
“That’s going to be a new thing,” Bruner said. “I think we will have to step up.”
Moreover, Gainesville is in the midst of trying to find a new city manager.
Bruner will become the second longest-serving member on the council next year, behind only Councilman George Wangemann, who has served since 1986.
Bruner said her service on the legislative policy council of the Georgia Municipal Association has helped prepare her for this emerging role, and she is excited about taking on new challenges and leading the newly elected council members.
“There are enough of us left with some good experience ... that we can definitely go forward in the same directions,” Bruner said. “I think it will be a challenge, but also an opportunity to get new ideas, new energy and new perspective.”
Candidate forum Gainesville City Council
What: Forum with Ward 2 and 3 candidates, as well as city school board candidates
When: 9:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Fair Street Neighborhood Center, 715 Fair St. in Gainesville
Coming Sunday: Look for coverage of the forum, plus a preview of the Ward 3 council race and profile of the candidates