Gainesville City Councilman Bob Hamrick shocked his colleagues Tuesday when he announced that he will not seek reelection in November and plans to retire at the end of the year.
Hamrick said earlier this spring that he intended to seek another four-year term, but additional health issues have caused a change of heart.
“A number of dynamics in my personal life has changed since I announced as a candidate for re-election,” Hamrick said in a prepared statement.
Affectionately called “Mr. Gainesville” by his fellow council members, Hamrick, 86, is the longest serving member of the council, having taken the helm nearly five decades ago.
He served as mayor for 12 years and worked with six city managers and 14 council members during that time.
Mayor Danny Dunagan was in high school when Hamrick came to the council, and Councilman Sam Couvillon wasn’t born yet.
“It has been my high honor to be a member of this council for 46 years,” said Hamrick.
Dunagan said Hamrick’s institutional knowledge will be sorely missed.
“That is a tenure that won’t be broken for quite a while,” he added.
Hamrick’s colleagues were visibly choked up and surprised by the announcement, and gave him a stirring round of applause.
“I’m sort of speechless,” said Councilwoman Ruth Bruner.
“This comes as a total surprise to me … Bob has served so well and so diligently,” said Councilman George Wangemann.
“I have learned much of what I know from hanging out with you,” said Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras.
Hamrick thanked his colleagues and the residents of Gainesville for their support, and he expressed his satisfaction with the progress the city has made during his time.
“We’ve come a long way,” he added.
Gainesville resident Zack Thompson has announced that he will run for the Ward 2 seat Hamrick represents.
Thompson is the co-owner of Professional Touch Landscapes and Tap It Gainesville Growlers on Thompson Bridge Road.