LEESBURG — Qualifying for municipal elections in Lee County turned out to be a study in contrasts for the county’s two cities, Leesburg and Smithville.
While the incumbents holding three contested Leesburg City Council seats all qualified without opposition for new four-year terms, two of three incumbents holding down Smithville city government posts drew challenges.
Smithville Mayor Jerry Myrick, who’s served in that office for eight years, is being challenged by David Bady and John Word; while Ward II City Commissioner Willie Mae Davis is being challenged by Juliette “Dipper” Bush. Incumbent Ward I Commissioner James Champion will retain his seat without a campaign after drawing no challenger.
Post 6 City Councilwoman Rhonda Futch became the final of three Leesburg incumbents to qualify for a four-year term Friday when she completed qualifying requirements around 3 p.m.
“My decision came down to the fact that (serving on the council) is worth the time you have to put in to do the job right,” Futch, who won her seat in a special election less than a year ago, said Friday evening. “There are a lot of ongoing projects in the city that I’d like to be a part of seeing get done. These are projects that are going to improve the quality of life of our citizens.”
Futch said ongoing efforts to ease traffic congestion downtown, recruit new businesses, downtown beautification projects and completing an updated website are some of the projects she expects the council to tackle over the next four years.
“These are things we’re just touching the tip of right now,” she said. “They’re going to require (the council) working together, and they’re going to require the people in the community standing behind us.”
Sidney Johnson qualified to return to the Post 5 council seat he’s held for 22 years.
“When I first ran for this council back in 1976, I said I wanted to see us get a new City Hall and get all the roads in the city paved,” Johnson said Friday. “We’re in a new City Hall building, and we’ve paved all the city’s roads but two. And we’ve also completed the wastewater treatment plant that was vital to city growth.
“Now, we have to continue making infrastructure upgrades. Some of the infrastructure here is way older than I am, and we don’t want to have the kind of mess with aging infrastructure like they have up in Atlanta. And we have to do it while keeping a close eye on the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Post 4 Councilman Bob Johnson, who is in his 37th year on the council, was the first on the board to qualify.
“I think I have enough gas left in the tank for four more years,” Johnson said.
The election in Smithville will be held Nov. 8, according to Lee Elections Supervisor Veronica Johnson, who confirmed all candidates who qualified to run. No election will be needed in Leesburg.
“Our office worked hand-in-hand with the folks in Leesburg and Smithville,” Johnson said. “Everything went smoothly.”