In a widely expected move, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz announced Thursday that he will be a candidate for mayor in the May 2018 nonpartisan election.
Girtz announced his intention to run for mayor Thursday afternoon on “Reppin’ Georgia,” a WXAG-AM/FM radio show featuring state Rep. Spencer Frye, D-Athens, and local Democratic activist Russell Edwards.
Girtz’s announcement makes him the fourth candidate thus far in the mayoral race. Also seeking the seat are Richie Knight, a senior partner in HW Creative Marketing, a downtown Athens business; fellow Commissioner Harry Sims, a retired public school teacher, and Antwon Stephens, a 20-year-old Athens resident with a varied history in politics that includes knocking on doors for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007 and serving as head of a local tea party organization in 2013.
Incumbent Mayor Nancy Denson, now in her second term, is term-limited and can’t seek re-election.
Girtz, who told local alternative weekly Flagpole Magazine in March that he would run for mayor, said Thursday that he will be making a more formal announcement of his candidacy as his work schedule allows within the next couple of months.
A former Clarke County School District teacher and administrator, Girtz is currently the regional director for student services for Foothills Charter High School, which operates at various sites across northern Georgia.
Currently in his third four-year term on the county commission, Girtz said in a brief interview Thursday that, if elected, his priorities would include employment and housing issues.
Girtz said he would like to see “a strong range of employment options” developed in the community, and also said he would work for “more and better housing choices” in Athens-Clarke County.