LEESBURG, Ga. -- The Leesburg City Council called for a special election to fill the seat vacated by former councilwoman Rhonda Futch at its monthly meeting Tuesday night, and the board already has a declared candidate.
Billy Breeden, a retired parts manager at Flint Equipment Co., said after the council went into executive session to discuss pending litigation and land acquisition that he plans to qualify for the vacant seat during the May 23-25 qualifying period.
"I'd been approached about (running for a council seat) before Rhonda announced she was running (in 2010)," Breeden, the cousin of longtime Lee Sheriff Harold Breeden, said. "When she decided to resign from her seat, I was approached again. I thought about it and prayed about it and decided I'd give it a shot.
"I've managed people for years, and I think I can bring something worthwhile to the council. If I am elected, I plan to be available to the people of Leesburg."
The council voted unanimously to call for the special election, which would coincide with statewide primaries July 31.
"We're fortunate that this election can be timed so that it's held at the same time as state and national elections July 31," City Attorney Bert Gregory said. "The citizens will not have the added cost of a separate election.
"Qualifying will coincide with the determined qualifying period, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, through noon on Friday, May 25. Early voting will run July 9-27 with one Saturday date included, and a (possible) runoff will be held Aug. 21."
When the council approved a resolution calling for the election, Gregory added, "I'll send this to the Justice Department tomorrow for pre-clearance."
Citing business reasons, Futch announced her resignation from the council on March 8.
In other action taken at the meeting, the council approved a resolution naming April 21-27 Georgia Cities Week. Councilwoman Judy Powell said she hopes citizens will "get spring fever" during the special week, promoted by the Georgia Municipal Association.
"One of the first things we plan to do during the week is kick off our Great American Cleanup campaign on the 21st," she said. "Volunteers will pick up trash around the city, but we're hoping people will get spring fever and spruce up their own property.
"This is not the only reason we want people to help clean up the city, but if Phillip Phillips continues to do well on (Fox TV's) 'American idol' and he is one of the final three contestants, the city will get national television exposure."
The council also voted to send out requests for proposals in an effort to determine the cost of tearing down a delapidated peanut mill, which is located on Norfolk Southern Railroad property. The railroad has given the city permission to tear the eyesore down, but it would have to pay for the demolition and materials removal.
"We don't need to commit to paying for the project, but the first step is finding out what it would cost to tear that structure down," Powell said. "There might even be someone willing to tear it down for the materials. It would all fit in with the plan to clean up and develop downtown Leesburg, and it could be a win-win."
Mayor Jim Quinn appointed Councilman Sidney Johnson to take Futch's place as chairman of the city's Water and Sewer Committee.