SMITHVILLE, Ga. — Four years ago, Jerry Myrick ran for a second term in the mayor’s office here unopposed. That won’t be the case when Lee County municipal elections are held Nov. 8.
A third candidate joined Myrick and challenger David Bady in the race Tuesday, as political newcomer John Word qualified to seek the office. A retired commercial general contractor, Word said he plans to provide the leadership Smithville has been “lacking for the past eight years.”
“Our employees here need direction; they’re only going to be as good as their leader,” Word said after announcing that he had qualified to run for the mayor’s office. “They need the kind of leadership that’s been lacking here for the past eight years.”
In Leesburg, City Clerk Casey Moore reported that Post 4 incumbent Councilman Bobby Wilson had completed qualifying requirements Monday.
Word, who has chaired Smithville’s Development Authority for the past three years, said there are issues that must be addressed in the small community.
“The infrastructure has not been maintained in the city,” the first-time candidate said. “Our water, sewer and roads need attention they haven’t gotten.
“I’m not a person who likes to be negative, but we have people who are running for office who don’t have an idea what’s going on in the city. I haven’t missed a City Council meeting in 2 1/2 years, and as head of the Development Authority I’ve been able to show that things can be accomplished here. We were able to get the new community building built that everyone loves.”
Myrick said he’s not surprised by the challengers lining up to oppose him.
“I expected I’d have some opposition this time around,” he said Tuesday. “I knew Mr. Bady had signed up to run, but I hadn’t heard about (Word). I’ll have to check into that.
“I really don’t want to talk about the race right now. I’d rather just let things play out before talking about them. I qualified to run for a third time because I want to keep Smithville moving forward.”
Word said Bady’s “negative campaigning” is turning off voters in the community, but that he expects to earn their support by going door-to-door to discuss issues.
“That’s about the only way to do things here,” he said. “I know (Myrick) has the name recognition as the incumbent, but I don’t think it will be as difficult as some people think to defeat him. I think people here realize they’ve had eight years of absolutely nothing (under Myrick), and they’ve had enough.”
Myrick, Bady and incumbent City Commissioners James Champion and Willie Mae Davis qualified Monday. Incumbent Leesburg council members Sidney Johnson and Rhonda Futch have yet to qualify for re-election.