Personnel board member and retired businessman John Manelos has officially announced his intention to challenge incumbent Mayor Karin Wilson in Fairhope’s Aug. 25 municipal election.
Manelos, who retired to the Eastern Shore after 28 years in corporate security and crisis management, joined the race days after Wilson’s announcement to seek reelection earlier this week.
During his time in the city, Manelos has launched Fairhope Paddleboard and volunteered on the board of several environmental non-profits as well as the Personnel Board of the City of Fairhope. Manelos and his wife Robin live in Fairhope. John has two adult sons, Will and Nick Manelos.
He has identified some of his priorities for the office as building a consensus across the sometimes politically divided city government and addressing lingering sewage and stormwater issues to better protect Mobile Bay.
“I understand the issues and unique challenges facing Fairhope and I want to make a positive contribution as the city’s next mayor,” Manelos said in a statement. “Respect for others, kindness and integrity are the ideals I strive for in myself and value most in others. I believe service to others is a calling, not a job.”
After four years at the helm of the city, Wilson believes Fairhope can “stay the course” toward a “ new era of prosperity” under her leadership. She noted that, during her time in office, Fairhope has eliminated a $6 million deficit, paid off debts and improved citizen engagement with the local government.
Owner of Page and Palette bookstore, Wilson was elected in 2016 as a self-described “political outsider.” She has been married to her husband Kiefer since 1996. They have two daughters Tyler and Tanner. In her campaign announcement, Wilson noted $18 million of RESTORE Act projects the town has received during her first term — many of which focus on sewer system rehabilitation.
She also touted recent investments the city has made in its working waterfront and the $650,000 comprehensive land-use plan that could help direct development. If re-elected, Wilson said she will continue to prioritize managing Fairhope’s growth without compromising its character.
“With over 44 percent population growth between 2010 and 2018, it should be no surprise that responsibly managing growth will continue to be my top priority for a second term,” she said in a campaign announcement earlier this week. “There is only one Fairhope, and under my watch, we will never allow growth to destroy the charm and cohesion that make our community special.”
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