Two days after Columbus Councilor Skip Henderson announced he would resign his post early to clear the way for voters to elect the next District 10 council member, a second candidate has entered the race.
Retired U.S. Army Col. John House, 64, said he would seek the seat in the May special election. Tollie Strode Jr., announced his intention to run for the citywide post earlier this month.
Henderson announced Monday he will vacate the post Feb. 14. If Henderson had waited until the March 5-9 qualifying period to relinquish his council post, the remaining councilor would have selected his replacement and that person would have served until December 2020. By leaving early, there will be a special election to finish the remaining two and half years on Henderson’s term.
That election will be May 22, the same day that voters will select five other council positions and a new mayor.
House, who made his announcement in front of about 40 supporters at the City Services Center on Wednesday, is not a political newcomer. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2012, losing to incumbent Democrat Sanford Bishop in the General Election.
“This is a little bit easier because the area is geographically smaller, but nonetheless that is the challenge, because I have to find out how I can reach everybody in the county and convince them I am the right person to vote for,” House said.
House ran as a Republican in 2012, but does not have to declare a party in the city election because it’s non-partisan. “There’s no hiding” he’s a Republican, House said, but the nature of the non-partisan election is something he welcomes.
“It is a non-partisan race and I am running for everybody in the city,” House said. “When they talk to me and ask me questions, I think they will find out I am not a threat, regardless of which party you may want to be affiliated with. I am worried about Columbus. That’s my focus.”
House, who lives in Midland, said he will work throughout the city to gain support.
“I hope that I am able to reach people that I couldn’t reach in 2012,” House said.
House said he has been looking for a possible run for council, but the opportunity has not presented itself until now. He said he would not have run against Councilor Judy Thomas, who holds the only other citywide seat, or his district councilor, Gary Allen.
House retired from the Army in July 2001 after 26 years of service. He is a part-time public administration instructor at Columbus State University. A Columbus High School graduate, House was the 1971 valedictorian.
House called Columbus “a great city,” but said there were issues that need to be addressed.
“We do have some issues that I want to be able to attack,” House said. “Crime is one that pops up every day, it seems like. I know we have had an increase in homicides in the last year. Yesterday, somebody told me there are so many gun shots and violence in his neighborhood that he sleeps during the day, rather than at night.”