Neighbors and passers-by on Main Street in Clermont recognize the Reeves family home as the one near the post office with all those little dogs running around their fenced-in yard.
Most of the family’s nine dogs were born in the stately house built in 1918, which Steve and Donna Reeves bought in the mid-1990s.
Compared with what they would have spent to build a dream house in Hiawassee, the couple joked the price — under $180,000 — seemed so good for such a spacious house on a great location with hardwood floors and sprawling yard that maybe there was something wrong with it like ghosts or something.
“We’ve had no regrets,” Donna Reeves said. “We love the house and we love Clermont.”
Now the Reeves are known in town for more than the cute papillons. They are singled out as the husband and wife running for office in Tuesday’s election.
To boot, their son, Albert Reeves, himself a former Clermont councilman who now lives in Gainesville, is challenging for a Gainesville City Council seat against longtime incumbent George Wangemann and first-time office seeker Maria Del Rosario Palacios.
What’s the driving force behind the Reeves’ family decision to seek office at the same time? Dad, mom and son sat down with the papillons on their laps to talk about their simultaneous excursion into the local political fray.
Donna Reeves credits her son for getting everyone in the family involved.
“He’s into it for sure,” she said of her politically savvy son.
Albert Reeves ran for a seat on Clermont Town Council in 2007 when he was living with his parents. He won the seat at age 24. After serving one four-year term, Albert Reeves and his wife moved to Gainesville.
Donna Reeves said she ran for the seat her son occupied in 2011.
“He wanted me to carry on with some of the projects he’s been pushing on council,” she said. “I wanted to continue with the ideas my son had to make Clermont a better place. Unfortunately, I lost by two votes.”
At the urging of her son and friends, Donna Reeves is again running for office. This time she is going against James Castleberry Jr., a retired manager with the U.S. Treasury Department who is making his first run at public office. They are seeking the Ward 4 seat after incumbent Kristi Crumpton decided not to seek re-election.
Albert Reeves thinks his dad stands a good chance of unseating three-term Clermont Mayor James Nix.
“My dad would make a great mayor because he is easygoing and listens to people,” he said. “That the mayor has been in office so long could hurt him and help dad.”
Albert Reeves said he doesn’t think anyone should be in office more than three terms and said that if he wins he would self-impose term limits on himself. Although he likes Wangemann, Albert Reeves thinks his 30 years on Gainesville City Council is way too long.
“Three terms and that’s it,” he said.
Steve Reeves said even three terms is too long.
“I think two terms is plenty,” he said.
The family believes that turnout Tuesday could be better than in other off-year elections because of the straw poll on the Clermont ballot over the sale of beer and wine. The nonbinding poll asks two questions of voters — whether to authorize the town to issue licenses for the sale of beer and wine by the drink on business premises and whether to issue licences for the package sales of beer and wine.
Albert Reeves said he was in favor alcohol sales when he was on Clermont Town Council and still thinks it’s good for business and a way to bring in more revenue.
Donna and Steve Reeves say they are all for having voters weigh in and would hope that if the majority votes in favor that council acts accordingly.
So far during early voting that concluded Friday, more than 30 ballots had been cast in Clermont, which is more than in previous years, according to Town Clerk Sandra Helton.
Albert Reeves predicts anything could happen in the Clermont election, where typically 100 of the town’s roughly 900 residents turn out to vote.
“I won my race in 2007 by five votes,” he said. “A race can swing one way or another with just a few votes.”
Donna and Steve Reeves say they are not nervous at all about the outcome.
“If I don’t win, I would consider running again,” Donna Reeves said.
“I would too,” Steve Reeves added.