GAINESVILLE - This year will be the first year Gainesville residents will vote on a mayor and as of Friday, there is one official candidate for the post.
In making his announcement, political newcomer Charles Alvarez said his main concern is the way the city handles business, pointing specifically to past tax increases by the city council. But, he said, too, he thinks it's time for new blood on the council.
"We need to have a different point of view in the Gainesville city area, and I want to offer that," he said.
Alavarez has lived in Gainesville for eight years, and he said he has 26 years of experience with operating apparel businesses in Florida and in Guatemala. Currently, he is a real estate agent with Prudential Georgia Realty.
Alvarez' candidacy comes in the middle of a controversy over Gainesville's at-large system of voting, a system that at least one Latino activist group says dilutes Hispanic voting strength in the city. In fact, the Georgia Association of Latino Officials has threatened legal action if Gainesville does not switch to a by-district form of elections.
Alvarez said that will be a challenge because he will be running against an established system that might not favor his candidacy. Still, he said he is ready to meet the challenge.
"My biggest challenge is getting the people to know me, to know who I am, to understand what my issues are and what I can offer," said Alvarez.
While the race for mayour is non-partisan, Alvarez said he is a registered Republican and is a member of the Hall County GOP.
The election for mayor is November 5. The revised city charter approved by Governor Nathsn Deal on April 11, 2012 allows for the first mayoral election for the city. In the past, the mayor's post has rotated among elected city council members.