published Thursday, July 11th, 2013

LaFayette councilman makes bid to be mayor

Andy Arnold, a 12-year veteran of the LaFayette, Ga., City Council, will make a friendly bid in November for the mayor's seat.

It's friendly because Arnold waited for 23-year incumbent Mayor Neal Florence's decision not to seek re-election.

"If he was going to run, we would not run against each other," Arnold said. "We're friends. We're deacons together at church. I'm friends with everybody on [the] council."

Arnold, the first candidate to announce, said he doesn't plan any big changes if elected mayor.

"I have no plans for personnel changes, other than getting a city manager on board," he said. Max Morrison, a former city councilman and owner of Flex-A-Bed, is acting as interim city manager after the resignation of Frank Etheridge.

The mayor, who is elected citywide, votes only to break ties.

"I've probably voted maybe five times," Florence said of his 23-year stint in the job.

Florence said he plans to vote for Arnold.

"I have full confidence in him," Florence said.

Arnold is a LaFayette High School graduate and lifelong Walker County resident. He has taught and coached for 26 years at LaFayette High. He now teaches economics and advanced placement psychology and is an assistant girls soccer coach.

He earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Jacksonville State University. He, his wife Teresa and their sons Cameron, Caleb and Carson are actively involved at First Baptist Church of LaFayette, where he is a deacon and teaches Sunday school.

The mayor's seat, the Ward 1 council seat that Arnold holds and the Ward 2 council seat, held by Ben Bradford who will seek re-election, all are up for grabs in November. Candidates can qualify to run from Aug. 26-28.

Arnold said he announced his intentions early to give others time to run for the council.

"That's one of the reasons I'm getting it out there, to give people a chance," he said.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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