Barbara Ruth says she’s no longer campaigning for a City Commission seat.
At the League of Women Voters City Commission candidate forum Tuesday, Ruth told her fellow candidates she was done campaigning.
The former At-large Seat 2 candidate initially decided to run because she said she felt stuck and complacent, but now she’s lost all momentum.
“I didn’t have a great chance to win,” she said. “I just wanted to not be a spoiler for any one camp. This might let one of them win it outright.”
Ruth, 65, will now officially endorse At-large Seat 2 candidate Helen Warren.
Warren said she and Ruth would have divided the same pool of voters.
“I appreciate that she is giving her support to me because it’s going to be a close race as it is,” Warren said.
Although Ruth has not formally withdrawn, she said she plans to make it official soon. To withdraw, Ruth would need to contact the Supervisor of Elections office, which would then place notices at the voting precincts.
Elections supervisor Pam Carpenter said if Ruth withdraws, her name will still appear on the ballot, but her votes will not count.
“We have had this happen before, so we have a process for it,” Carpenter said.
Ruth used about $600 to fund her campaign. She said she didn’t have any other donors in line to support it further.
Mark Venzke, also an At-large Seat 2 candidate, said he was not surprised to hear about Ruth’s endorsement of Warren.
“Helen is most closely aligned with Barbara Ruth’s general philosophies and sensibilities,” he said.
Ruth first moved to Gainesville after her husband, a Vietnam War veteran, passed away from pancreatic cancer. She has lived in her marigold yellow house in the Stephen Foster Neighborhood for almost 12 years. During that time, Ruth ran a small massage-therapy business and became an ordained minister.
Ruth, who is vice president of the Stephen Foster Neighborhood Association, said her first foray into politics was in 2006. She rallied with other residents of the neighborhood against the expansion of the city public work’s fleet garage next to the neighborhood. The group of neighbors led the city to move the facility out of its boundaries.
She said the experience taught her the importance of openness between the City Commission and the public.
“Making the people truly aware of what the plans are is a key thing,” she said.
Ruth will remain active in her neighborhood and efforts to help with cleanup plans for the Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site.
Now that her campaign is over, Ruth said she’ll have to find a job. But she said ending it was the best decision she could’ve made.
“It’s a relief,” she said. “I’ve done my best and spoke from my heart.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 2/27/2014 under the headline "Commission candidate to withdraw"]