Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan officially announced at Thursday’s City Council work session his plan to resign as mayor at the end of August so he can run to become the city’s first elected mayor in November.
Dunagan, owner of Three D Cleaners, was elected to the council in 2006, defeating former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell.
He was appointed mayor by his fellow council members in January 2012, a position that has rotated between council members every two years.
“I enjoy serving the citizens of Gainesville,” he said.
Voters approved the elected mayor position in a 2009 referendum.
“It’s very humbling,” Dunagan said, referring to the possibility of being the first elected mayor.
His term ends Dec. 31, and as the Ward 1 representative, he would have been up for re-election. Ward 4 is also up for election, with that councilman, George Wangemann, announcing last week he is running for re-election. Wangemann also resigned from his position as mayor pro tempore.
The council decided Thursday that Councilman Bob Hamrick will take that position and everyone will move up one in the city’s emergency succession plan. The City Council members are expected to vote on that at their Tuesday meeting.
“We’ve come a long way,” Dunagan said. “We’ve come through some tough times and we have some exciting things in the future and I want to carry on through.”
Real estate agent Charles Alvarez also has announced plans to run for the mayor post.
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: a mayor elected from any of the five wards.
Qualifying for mayor and council seats is set for Aug. 26-28. The fee is $35 for mayor and $621 for council member.
State election law “pretty much dictates how we calculate the fee, which is 3 percent of the salary paid in the previous year,” City Clerk Denise Jordan said in January, when the council approved a resolution setting the fees.
Because the city hasn’t had an elected mayor, “we had to fall back on state law, which says that fee can’t be any higher than $35,” she said.
Jordan said she hopes to have the qualifying packets done for candidates by July 9. The city will publish the notice for the qualifying period on July 14.
The last day for residents to register to vote is Oct. 7, which is also the first day of early voting. The election is Nov. 5.