March 29, 2017

Commissioner Harry Sims Is Running for Athens Mayor

City Dope

It’s almost become a running joke between longtime Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Harry Sims and me: Every four years, there are rumors he’s running for mayor, and every four years, he tells me he’s not.

Except this time, he is. Sims made the announcement at the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner Mar. 23, according to the Athens Banner-Herald’s Jim Thompson.

If Sims can hold together the Doc Eldridge/Nancy Denson coalition of Republicans, African Americans and conservative businesspeople, he’ll be a formidable candidate. (He has the support of the term-limited Denson, who remarked on Facebook that he’d “make a good mayor.”) Meanwhile, Sims’ strongest opponent so far, Kelly Girtz, sits two seats down behind the rail, and will look to revitalize the progressive movement that elected Gwen O’Looney and Heidi Davison.

At this early stage in the race—the election is not until May 2018—there are nothing but questions. How will other commissioners line up behind their two colleagues? Will 2014 candidate and Athens for Everyone President Tim Denson jump in or lend his formidable organizing skills to Girtz, an ally on many issues? Will newcomer Richie Knight, a marketing entrepreneur, pull more votes from young progressives looking for a fresh face or from the business community? Which mystery candidate(s) will come forward between now and qualifying next March? Tune in to find out.