Mayor Richard Davis, who is currently serving his 21st year as mayor of Richmond Hill, said Thursday he has no plans to run for another term. Mayor Pro-tem Floyd Hilliard, who has been a Richmond Hill city councilman for a record 12 years, declared his candidacy for mayor on Thursday.
Hilliard said he would never run against Davis, and made his announcement after a conversation with the current mayor. Hilliard said because his council term expires at the end of the year, election superintendent Sam Davis informed him he will not have to vacate his council seat to run.
"I don’t have any plans to ever run for mayor again," Mayor Davis said. "I’ll be 74 come July 1 and I’ve been in city government for 31 years, so the time has come. A lot has been accomplished in that time, so I can walk out into the sunset with my head held high."
Davis said he is proud of the many things he has helped to accomplish during his tenure, such as the creation of J.F. Gregory Park and the current city hall complex. Before becoming mayor, Davis was a Richmond Hill city councilman for 10 years.
"I’m sure I haven’t pleased everybody, but that’s not the name of the game," Davis said. "If you try to do that, you’d make a royal mess of everything … I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do. I have no regrets."
As for what he’ll do next, Davis said he may "take up fishing" or do some volunteer hospital work.
Meanwhile, Hilliard is starting to focus his thoughts on the Nov. 3 election. In addition to the mayor spot and Hilliard’s post 2 council seat, Councilperson JoAnn Bickley’s post 1 seat will also be on the ballot. The qualifying period runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4.
"I’ve had the privilege to be mayor pro-tem for the last few years, which has given me insight into what I’d have to do for that position," Hilliard said. "I kind of look at council as rowing the boat, with the mayor steering the boat. It’s time to steer. Over the years, I hope I’ve done the right things and shown people that I’ve got what it takes. Of course, I’m going to have to begin a campaign to run and I don’t really like that aspect of it."
Hilliard is a retired military officer of 20 years. He said the leadership skills he learned in the service will help him lead the city if given the opportunity. He currently is a manager at Ward’s Auto Painting on Hwy. 204 in Savannah.
Hilliard also said he recognizes the economic challenges that the next mayor will face and, therefore, "the ways of the past may not work for the next four years. We’re going to have to conserve."
Hilliard said his 12 years experience on the city council should make him a strong contender for mayor.
He said the fact of him having been there when all the city laws and ordinances were formulated over the last decade puts him in a unique position.
"I’m excited about this opportunity," Hilliard said. "I’m not doing it for the money – it doesn’t pay much. I’m not doing it for the power – I’ve had plenty of that during my heyday in the military. I’m doing it because I believe I can lead this city, God willing, to some good areas. We’re good now, but we can be better."
Hilliard said, if he won the election, he would work closely with the CVB and development authority to increase the amount of quality businesses in Richmond Hill.
He said the city has "done very well as far as the housing industry, but we’ve lacked in bringing in businesses. I’d like to have it to where people do not have to drive so far for certain quality conveniences. It bothers me that people drive through South Bryan to go to somewhere in Savannah. We should be a stopping point."
There has been talk of former councilman Harold Fowler throwing his name in the hat for the mayoral race.
Fowler confirmed Thursday that he will run for mayor and plans to make an official announcement next week.