While Danny Dunagan has closed the door on seeking a third term as Gainesville’s mayor, he isn’t done with serving the city as an elected official.
Dunagan announced on April 23 that he intends to run for the Gainesville Ward 1 City Council seat this November.
Elected to the council in 2006, Dunagan told The Times, the decision to opt out of a possible third term as mayor and run for a council seat, is to spend more time with his business and family.
Dunagan cited the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on his dry-cleaning business, Three D Cleaners, as a motivating factor.
“Had things not been like they are (due to the pandemic), I would probably run for one more term as mayor,” he said. “But, COVID has taken a huge impact on my business, and my son, who basically ran the business for me when I was gone for my many duties as mayor, got another job.”
Coincidentally, the Ward 1 incumbent Sam Couvillon announced his intention to run for Gainesville mayor on April 21. Couvillon told The Times, his decision was in response to Dunagan’s decision to forgo a third term.
Dunagan was appointed mayor by his fellow council members in January 2012 before becoming the first elected mayor in 2013. He was then re-elected in 2017.
For Dunagan, if elected to serve a four-year term as a councilmember, it would be his last term in local government.
“I enjoy serving the citizens of Gainesville. We got a lot going on and I’ve had my hands in some of it and want to continue that,” he said. “I want to see where we go over the next four years and I really have enjoyed working with this council. But it would be my last term if elected.”
Dunagan added that mayoral duties limited the amount of time he could devote to outside ventures.
“I need to spend more time with my business and being a mayor is very time-consuming,” he said. “I’ve been humbled and enjoyed every minute of it, but I just need to spend more time with my business and my family and the councilmember schedule will allow me to do that.”
Dunagan, who has served as a city councilmember and mayor during both the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, respectively, said being a mayor during the pandemic was one of his most pressing challenges.
“It’s been challenging times and at times it has been the worst (situation) to be in,” he said. “But we have an excellent staff and council that got us through this unprecedented time, and I want to continue to be there for the city and citizens as needed.”
Dunagan said he plans to focus on the city’s increasing traffic problems and continuing to strengthen relationships with county partners as the city continues to expand.
“I’ll still be involved in the projects as we move forward, and traffic is a problem that is going to continue to be a problem down the line,” he said. “We’re still growing and moving in the right direction, but we want to make sure that Gainesville is growing smart.”
The municipal election is Nov. 2.