Gainesville Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras announced that she will not seek re-election this fall during a community meeting Saturday morning.
In a prepared statement, Figueras said she will retire and believes “our beautiful city has produced many others who will serve with as great a commitment to public service as I did.”
Figueras has represented Ward 3, which includes the city’s historic African-American neighborhoods, since 1996. She also served two stints as mayor before it became an elected position.
Figueras worked as a teacher in the Gainesville school system for more than 30 years prior to joining the council.
“My major goals have been to connect the everyday life of average citizens with the actual activities of city government,” Figueras said. “Each resident is important and deserves the ear of and to participate fully in government.”
Two other council seats are up for re-election this year. Councilmembers Ruth Bruner (Ward 5) and Bob Hamrick have said they will seek new four-year terms.
Bruner represents Ward 5, a district covering largely residential neighborhoods to the immediate west and northwest of downtown. She was first elected in 2003.
Hamrick is the longest-serving member on the council. First elected in 1969, he represents residential neighborhoods from Green Street east to Limestone Parkway.
Gainesville resident Zack Thompson has announced that he will run against Hamrick for the Ward 2 seat.
Thompson is the co-owner of Professional Touch Landscapes and Tap It Gainesville Growlers on Thompson Bridge Road.
Qualifying for November City Council races begins in late August.
With Figueras’ departure, the council will see at least one new member come 2016.
“I was surprised,” Mayor Danny Dunagan said of the announcement. “Myrtle has served this city well. She loves this city. But it’s a decision I can understand after 19 years of service. We’ll miss her.”
Figueras might not be going too far away from the public light, however.
She said she will assist any individual who wishes to run for the Ward 3 seat and will remain active in the community.
“At age 72, I plan to continue to be used as the master guides me into the next season of my life,” Figueras said. “I will always remain available to serve where needed.”