Former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell will seek to represent Gainesville’s Ward 1, the position currently held by Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan.
Bell announced his campaign Monday. He lost to Dunagan for the council seat in 2006. Bell became the county’s youngest commissioner in 2009 when he won the District 4 seat at age 27.
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: a mayor elected from any of the five wards.
“As a lifelong resident of Gainesville, I look forward to bringing my experience in business, government and community service to be an advocate for all of Gainesville,” Bell said in a statement.
Bell served as a commissioner until he lost a re-election bid in 2012 to Jeff Stowe. He was considered a rising political star and got a lot of attention when he switched to the Republican Party in 2011. Bell was originally a Democrat, deeply involved in the party.
Bell is a partner with Bell & Washington LLP, a law firm with offices in Gainesville, Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala.
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 dictates the fee be 3 percent of the salary paid the previous year, and no salary was yet set for mayor.
City Clerk Denise Jordan had said she hoped to have the qualifying packets done for candidates by today. The city will publish the notice for the qualifying period on Sunday.
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.