For the first time in a decade, there is a contested race for mayor in the small town of Hull.
Councilman Paul Elkins, 71, who has served on the council for five years, resigned his post last month to run for the vacant mayoral seat, which was vacated by Mayor Rebecca Hutchins in August. Hutchins replaced her late husband, Mayor B.W. Hutchins last fall. B.W. died in April 2007 during his 14th year as mayor. Mrs. Hutchins, who had served on the council since 1991, was the sole qualifier to replace him.
She resigned in August because she was moving to a home outside the city limits.
Elkins will face newcomer Tony Ganey, 60, owner of an Athens franchise of Express Tax Service and a resident of Hidden Falls subdivision on Glenn Carrie Road. Ganey said Tuesday that he and his wife, Regina, moved to Hull from Valdosta two years ago.
“We just love the place,” Ganey said. “I’ve gotten to know my neighbors’ (in Hidden Falls) names, their kids’ names and their pets’ names.”
Ganey said he had kept up with Hull city council meetings through news articles and by talking with neighbor Paul Cook, a Hull councilman.
“I have a lot of free time, my kids’ are grown, though I do have two little dogs, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to serve the community,” Ganey said of his decision to run.
He feels his career as a businessman, including having served as president and vice-president of a company, help qualify him for the position. “There’s no ego involved here, no making money, it’s just whether I can serve the community.”
Ganey said, if elected, he plans to be very proactive in getting grants and other funding for the town.
“It’s great,” Elkins said of having competition for mayor. “It’s a real step forward for Hull.”
Elkins added that it has been years since there’s been a competitive local race in Hull.
In fact, for a while now Elkins and other members of the council have had trouble just finding someone to fill vacated council seats. And he remains optimistic that this signals more interest in the little town going forward.
“As the county, and this area, grows I think we’re going to see more interest in city government,” Elkins said.
Elkins said there are more than 120 registered voters within the city limits, but noted that only 15 voted in the last local election. He hopes those numbers improve this time, and he thinks they will, especially since the special election for mayor is being held on the same day as the general election.
“Voting for mayor will be in the same building, the Hull Civic Club,” Elkins noted. Those who show up to vote and who desire to vote for mayor, will need to obtain a special ballot while at the polls – the mayoral candidates won’t be on the general election ballot.