Four people running for mayor in November

Damascus Mayor Steve Spinnett has announced he will not seek a third term. Instead, he plans to devote more time to his family’s several auto repair businesses, which are run by his three adult children.

“We’re growing in the right direction and we need to get the businesses going to support four families,” he said.

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - Steve SpinnettSpinnett has overseen a contentious period on the city’s history, which was incorporated in 2004. The city’s failure to adopt a comprehensive plan after several failed efforts has led to financial sanctions by the state’s Department of Land Conservation and Development and an act by the state Legislature, House Bill 4029, to allow citizens to leave the city through de-annexation.

At present, a comp plan sanctioned by the mayor will be on the November ballot, while the original citizen-driven comp plan is still in limbo, but could possibly compete with the mayor’s plan on the ballot, said Richard Johnson of Move Damascus Forward.

Other issues, including a challenge of last year’s election that disallowed disincorporation, and the city filing suit against everyone who wants to de-annex has led to many council meetings with angry citizens packing meetings and even staging demonstrations outside against the mayor and council.

Candidates have until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, to file for the mayor’s seat and three open council positions. Dan Tomlinson, who was appointed last year to fill a council seat after the resignation of Mary Westcott, has filed to run for mayor. Councilor Randy Shannon, who has said HB 4029 is unconstitutional, has also filed for the mayor’s race.

So has Councilor Bill Wehr, who is closely aligned with the mayor’s policies and who has Spinnett’s endorsement.

Johnson said Tomlinson is not in lockstep with Spinnett.

“Dan is pretty independent and hasn’t really aligned himself with anybody and I don’t think he is,” Johnson said. “I think he feels it will be best for him to run without having any ties.”

Diana Helm has also registered to run for mayor and said it’s time for a change.

“The council we have right now is not listening to the people,” she said.

That brings to four the number running for mayor, but more could enter before the deadline.

Three other council seats are up for re-election. Doug Walker has filed to fill the expired seat of Andrew Jackman, who has yet to file. Two people, Nancy Carpenter and Pat Higgins, have filed to take Shannon’s council seat but no one has filed yet to replace Tomlinson on the council. Damascus has no term limits.

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