This story was updated Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, at 10:31 p.m. with more information.
Chattanooga District 5 City Councilman Russell Gilbert officially announced his 2021 candidacy for city mayor Monday, promising "fresh ideas."
In a news release on Monday afternoon, Gilbert confirmed he will run for the open seat in 2021 after more than 11 years on the council.
"Serving the 5th District community has been my honor. I have consistently and diligently worked for positive change in my community and beyond and I believe it is now time for me to step forward and seek the office of Mayor of Chattanooga," Gilbert wrote. "My strong roots in our city have deeply connected me with the community. I am bringing fresh ideas and positive solutions for all of our citizens. I have worked and raised my family here my entire life and my experience as an elected four term official has allowed me to hear the concerns of our city. My service to the public has equipped me with the knowledge and experience I will draw from to implement ways to work together; by creating an environment of tolerance and inclusion for all people."
In the release, Gilbert touts his history on the council and as chairman of the city's human resources committee, where he says he fought disparity and promises to continue his fight for social issues as mayor.
"My goal is to be instrumental in helping our city to continue to thrive and prepare for the future. I understand the issues that face our city," the release reads. "I will focus my efforts on four very important key issues that will strengthen and unite our city: safety, economic growth, fair housing, and infrastructure."
Gilbert, the first of many rumored council members to formally announce a campaign, teased his run on New Year's Day through Facebook marketing.
In a public post and subsequent story on Facebook, Gilbert, who has represented Bonny Oaks, Dalewood, Eastgate, Woodmore and Lake Hills on the council since 2008, wrote "Happy New Year 2020 #Mayor2021."
The post includes an image of Gilbert with the words "In the midst of the darkness the light will shine," as well as an emblem of his name and a smaller logo that reads "Chattanooga Caring Beyond."
Gilbert refused to confirm the announcement prior to the release on Tuesday.
With more than a year until the election, two community members — small-business consultant Monty Bruell and private executive agent Andrew McLaren — have publicly announced their candidacies.
Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgtaylor.