By Bill Robinson
Although he earlier said he would wait until after the holidays, Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes filed for re-election Friday, saying he wanted to end speculation about his intention.
Barnes, who had previously served on the city commission, won election in 2010 defeating incumbent Connie Lawson.
As he did four years earlier, Barnes said he plans to run on a platform of fiscal responsibility. The city was facing a financial crisis when he took office, and Barnes said that even making the city’s January 2011 payroll was in doubt.
In a press release, the mayor said he would continue to hold the line on spending.
“It may be exciting to remodel your house, but if you have to put it all on credit cards, it’s not progress. Now that the city’s finances are under control, we’re in a great position to improve the future and quality of life for the citizens of Richmond.”
Already in the mayor’s race is City Commissioner Laura King with whom Barnes has clashed repeatedly since she joined the commission in January.
Candidates have until 4 p.m. Jan. 28 to file.
Barnes and King have disagreed, heatedly at times, on issues ranging from closure of the city fire station off Duncannon Lane, restoration of city employees’ longevity bonus, removal of a softball field from Irvine-McDowell Park, removal of reserved parking for county employees on First Street and correcting what a Sunset Avenue resident said was flooding on her property caused by a city storm-water drainage project.
A visit of city officials to inspect the Sunset Avenue site led to some angry exchanges involving the mayor, King and City Manager Jimmy Howard. Barnes has said the Richmond Register’s report of that incident prompted some to ask if he would resign.
During the first two years of his term, Barnes said he would often hear two to three comments after each commission meeting remarking about how boring they were. However, that hasn’t been the case this past year, he said. At one commission meeting, King twice accused Barnes of lying about two issues before the city.
The 2012 election saw the defeat of commissioner Richard Thomas, who aligned with the mayor on most issues. It also saw the election to the commission of former city firefighter Jim Newby, who has generally sided with King in opposition to the mayor.
Commissioner Donna Baird has been the mayor’s most reliable ally this past year, with Commissioner Robert Blythe tipping the scales on controversial issues.
Barnes and King have compromised on at least one issue. Before it was adopted, the city’s 2013-14 budget was amended to increase the fire department’s strength by three firefighters.
Newby has filed for re-election but Baird and Blythe, so far, have not, and no one else has entered the race.
City races are nonpartisan.
The coming year also will feature some competitive county races.
Incumbent Judge/Executive Kent Clark, a Democrat, is seeking re-election. Three Republicans want to challenge him. They are County Codes Administrator Duane Curry, Fourth District Magistrate Greg King and builder/developer Reagan Taylor.
Four candidates are already in the First District Magistrate’s race, incumbent Larry Combs and three other Democrats, Brad Hylton, Bobby Joe McMahan and Ronnie Terrill. One Republican, Brian Combs, the incumbent’s nephew, also has filed for the race.
Incumbent Second District Magistrate Roger Barger has no opposition so far.
In the Third District, Democrat John C. Tudor has filed but not incumbent Billy Ray Hughes, a Republican.
Robert John Harris, the Democratic nominee for Fourth District Magistrate in 2010, is the only candidate in the Fourth District race so far. Greg King, the incumbent, is in the judge/executive race.
First-term incumbent Jailer Doug Thomas will face a primary challenge from fellow Democrat Steve Tussey.
Sheriff Mike Coyle is so far unopposed for election as are County Clerk Kenny Barger, Property Valuation Administrator Billy Ackerman, Coroner Jimmy Cornelison and County Attorney Marc Robbins. All are Democrats except Barger.
The Fourth District Constable’s race has three candidates, Democrat Josh Thomas and Republicans Brian Hyatt and Tim Keebortz.
Other constable candidates are J.B. Marcum, First District; Steven J. Kelly, Second District; and Bruce Thomas, Third District.
The Berea mayor’s race and all eight seats on the city council are up for election. However, the filing deadline for those races is not until August.
Races for state representative, state senator and U.S. senator will be among those on the 2014 ballot.