In a small town of about 900 residents, it’s hard to go into a mayoral race not knowing much about your opponent.
That’s the situation in which incumbent Mayor James Nix finds himself as he seeks to win a fourth consecutive term against a man he doesn’t think he’s ever met.
“To my knowledge, he’s never been to a meeting of the council,” Nix said of Steve Reeves.
Although he may be a stranger to the mayor, Reeves has gotten to know quite a few people since moving to Clermont from Oakwood in 1996.
Nix said all he knows is that Reeves’ son, Albert, served one term on town council.
In a town where a good turnout on Election Day will bring just a little more than 100 people to the polls, the difference between winning or losing an election is how many people you know and whether your neighbors like you.
Clermont operates on a budget of less than $435,000.
“It takes a lot just to maintain the streets,” Nix said. “We just don’t have a lot of money. We stay a small town and try to do the best we can with the little we got.”
Since being elected mayor in 2005, Nix has kept Clermont’s tradition of making ends meet without a town tax on property. He said most of the town’s money comes from a local option sales tax and special purpose local options sales tax.
“We try to keep up the parks, and we have the community center rented out and get enough revenue from it to keep it going,” Nix said. “We supply a lot of things for the people, which may not make sense to a lot of people.
“You got the playground out here, don’t bring any revenue in, it costs you, but it’s there for the people,” Nix added. “The same thing down there around town hall, we got those parks, pavilions and all. We reserve them for family picnics or something, and charge them a little. Other than that, they are there for people to use.”
Reeves chuckles when he says he’s got zero experience with politics. He said he doesn’t know anything about Nix because he hasn’t been involved in local politics, although he plans to start attending town council meetings
“He does have a history of success,” Reeves said of Nix. “The only other thing I knew about him was that this was going to be his last go-around with being mayor. I’m just offering an alternative to the voters.”
If elected, Reeves said he has no agenda and would listen and rely on input from the council and people on what they think is a priority.
“The goal is not really my idea, but what the people would like to see that’s doable, practical and affordable,” Reeves said.
Nix said he was born and raised in Clermont, and returned to his roots in 1999 after finishing up a career with the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. He downplays the success he’s had getting elected three previous times..
“A lot of people knew me,” Nix said. “I try to do things for the city and try to keep it going forward.”
Clermont mayoral race
When: Early voting begins Monday. Election Day is Nov. 7
Where to vote: Clermont Town Hall, 109 King St.
Education: B.A and M.A. degrees in agricultural economic research from the University of Georgia; Ph.D In Agricultural and Applied Economics from Clemson University
Occupation: Retired after 25 years with the Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. where he headed up a committee that did forecasting of livestock, poultry and dairy products
Political experience: Seeking a fourth term as mayor of Clermont
Education: Electronics degree from Lanier Technical College
Occupation: Retired after 45 years in electronics with major corporations, including SIMCO Electronics.
Political experience: None