Robert Mounts almost didn’t make it on the ballot.
Mounts, 77, of Gainesville, filed to run for the District 4 Gainesville City Commission seat Friday morning, the last day to qualify for the race.
City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos, 34, will no longer run unopposed in the city’s regular election for the District 4 commission seat on March 19. The election also includes the mayoral race. Voter registration closes Feb. 19.
“I didn’t expect to run,” Mounts said. “I felt that we needed to have this healthy debate as a community about our future.”
Hayes-Santos, the incumbent, announced his bid for re-election in December. He said he’s excited to have some competition in the race.
“I’m excited to go knock on doors and have great front door conversations,” Hayes-Santos said.
If elected, Mounts said he wants to see a balance in redevelopment decisions that preserve the history of Gainesville and provide opportunity for urban areas. He supports the idea of developing community land trusts to address the lack of affordable housing, while still preserving the charm of the neighborhoods.
“We’re all for some way to address the housing crisis but not at the expense of traditional and historic neighborhoods,” Mounts said.
Mounts, who was born and raised in Gainesville, spent 18 years in South Korea as a special assistant to the deputy commander of U.S. Forces Korea for international relations. Before that, he spent 25 years as a judge advocate for the U.S. Air Force.
After returning to his hometown five years ago, he said his decision to run for commission comes from giving the neighborhood a voice in search for balance between preservation and redevelopment.
“We need to consider the concerns and issues raised by the surrounding neighbors and do what we can to preserve the best of Gainesville while we move it further into the 21st century,” Mounts said.