A Catoosa County, Ga., commissioner is entering the race to be Fort Oglethorpe's mayor, which may spark two interesting elections.
Commissioner Ken Marks said this week he has decided to run for the city's top post and will turn in his paperwork at the end of August when qualifying begins.
The minute he does, he must vacate his commission seat, creating a need for a special election to replace him.
Marks, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam and a former salesman for Acosta Sales, said he considered running last year in a special election to replace Ronnie Cobb, the former mayor who died of heart trouble. But Marks, a close friend of Cobb, said he needed to be sure he was making the decision "with my head, not my heart."
Marks said his main focus as mayor would be growing the city through development and annexation, particularly in the Dietz Road area and along Cloud Springs Road.
"Economic development has been put on the backburner," he said. "I just see too many empty buildings here."
Marks said current Mayor Lynn Long has done an "admirable" job during his tenure, but he vowed to do more to bring in jobs.
For his part, Long disputed the notion that development has not been a priority.
He pointed to recent steps the city has taken to revitalize LaFayette Road between Battlefield Parkway and the Chickamauga Battlefield. City leaders have discussed creating an opportunity zone that would give tax incentives to businesses opening or expanding in the corridor.
Long admitted the effort was in the fledgling stages, but he said important groundwork is being laid.
"If we don't have a beginning we never get to an end, and the beginning is already under way," he said. "We need to give all areas of the city the chance to grow."
By law, Marks will be removed as commissioner the instant he qualifies, county attorney Chad Young said.
Because Catoosa commissioners represent districts rather than at-large posts, only voters in the Lakeview, Chambers and Fort Oglethorpe precincts would vote for Marks' replacement, according to election staff.
Qualifying is the last week in August, and both elections will be set for Nov. 8.