Gil Ziffer drops out of mayor's race

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 29, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- State Senator Bill Montford says he "is considering" a run for mayor, but "is not close to a decision on it."

Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer announced Monday he was dropping out of the mayor's race and backing Montford should he choose to run.

'All of this is happening so quickly," Senator Montford said Monday evening. He says he recently met with Commissioner Ziffer to discuss the mayor's race "over a hamburger."

Montford said he's received calls from several "respected colleagues" encouraging him to run for mayor and he is "taking some time to digest what the possibilities are."

Montford said he is happy serving in the state Senate and made a commitment to the people in his eleven county district. After seven years, Montford said he "is in a good position" in the Senate - chairing the Commerce and Tourism Committee - and "that would be hard to walk away from."

Montford still has two years in his state senate term.

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 29, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Roughly four months after declaring he'd run for Tallahassee Mayor, City Commissioner Gil Ziffer has announced he will pull his bid for the election.

"I've been doing it long enough and at the end of my term it'll be over nine years. And that's a pretty big part of my life. It's time for somebody else to step up and somebody will," said Ziffer.

He acknowledged that he'd be thinking about dropping out of the race for about six weeks and finally made the decision after talking it over with his family. Ziffer said he'd like to spend more time with his six grandchildren, refocus on his business and travel with his wife. He said he would also like to continue helping Tallahassee, but as a private citizen.

"My days in local government may be over, but not my days of helping locally. I think we have far too many people that complain and we
need more people that help. We don't solve problems by complaining. We solve problems by fixing and that's what we need to do," he said.

Ziffer also noted that the ongoing FBI investigation and numerous ethics complaints have made it difficult to serve.

"For me when you know you haven't done anything, it's not hard to wake up in the morning. But, it wears on you," he said.

Commissioner Nancy Miller is also not seeking reelection. She said she thought Ziffer would make an excellent Mayor, but said the "civil discourse" happening at meetings can be trying.

"I think the general atmosphere that everyone's guilt as soon as someone points a finger, I think is something the voters should think about," said Miller. "Not very many people are going to want to step up and say, 'I will do it.' And I'm very excited about the people who have."

Ziffer said that some fresh faces on the commission could help the city move forward. With that, he pointed to Senator Bill Montford.

"If our Senator Bill Montford chooses to run I think he's the kind of person who can redirect people because he won't be involved with all what's happened. He'll be somebody in the future," said Ziffer.

Montford did not return calls for comment on Monday.

Two other candidates still remain in the race for mayor including veteran Joe West and veteran and TCC student Erik David.

Bob Lotane, who originally filed for mayor but switched to seat five because Ziffer was running, said he plans to stay the course.

"There's going to be a lot of turnover in the commission. We're losing a lot of senior staff at City Hall. So, I think having a steadier hand, a more experienced hand, in the mayor's seat would be a better thing," he said. Lotane also said he's support Montford if he chooses to run.

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson said he originally did not seek to run for mayor because he didn't want to run against his colleague, however he would potentially consider it now if it was the right thing to do. First, a discussion would need to be had with his wife and family to weigh the impact it would have.

He also said the recent cloud over Tallahassee would not have an impact on his decision.

"There still is a lot of good things about our community... and so those are the things I chose to focus my time and energy on and those other issues, we'll deal with and get beyond them and Tallahassee will be a better place because of it," he said. "But, those things wouldn't deter me from running for mayor. That would inspire me to want to become mayor and address those issues and move beyond it."

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 29, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Gil Ziffer announced his decision to drop out of the race for Tallahassee mayor early Monday morning and says he is now backing State Senator Bill Montford in the race, even though Montford has not officially announced a run.

"I am confident a candidate worthy of the mayor's position will step forward," Ziffer said. "If Senator Bill Montford chooses to run, I believe he will be the mayor Tallahassee needs and deserves at this critical time."

Ziffer says he has met with Montford to discuss the race for Mayor. We have not yet been able to reach Montford for comment.

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 29, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer is opting out of a run for mayor and is planning to return to the private sector this fall.

"With a great deal of thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to not seek the Tallahassee Mayor's position, nor will I seek any other position on the City Commission," Ziffer said.

Ziffer said he's been blessed with six grandchildren since taking office in 2009, and wants to spend more time with them. Ziffer said he's been seriously considering the move since December, and after talking with his family decided "nine years is enough."

Ziffer said the recent FBI investigation and ethics probes into his colleagues at City Hall have "worn on me." "It takes its toll," he said. Ziffer said it's been difficult to serve under that cloud.

"This is the best time for me to move on," Ziffer said. "I don't have to leave, I choose to. I think I'd make a great mayor, I just don't have four more years to give."

He also cited a lack of civil discourse as one of the reasons for his decision to drop out.

Ziffer noted infrastructure improvements at Cascades Park, as well as along Franklin Boulevard and Gaines Street, during his tenure as a city commissioner. He also says he's confident a Southside community school will become a reality by the time he leaves office in November.

"Our city is in good hands with the 2,800 City of Tallahassee employees and management that go to work every day providing the many and far-reaching services our residents have come to expect," Ziffer said.

Ziffer currently holds City Commission Seat 5 and is President of the Florida League of Cities.

Ziffer initially filed paperwork to run for mayor in September 2017. Two other candidates have also filed: veteran Joe West and veteran and current Tallahassee Community College student Erik David.

Bob Lotane originally filed for mayor but has since switched to run for City Commission Seat Five.

Current Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announced in February 2017 that he would be vacating the mayor's seat at the end of his term to run for Governor of Florida.

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