SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With qualifying week in full swing, a list of high-profile, familiar candidates are officially in the running to be the next Mayor of Savannah.
Louis Wilson Sr. also officially qualified to run for mayor on Thursday although no previous announcement had been made.
Alderman Johnson filed his paperwork with the city clerk’s office Wednesday. Former Senator Thomas officially qualified on Monday and Mayor DeLoach qualified on Tuesday.
The four names are not new to Savannah politics, but they still may be new to some of those in the community. Here’s a brief background on the different candidates:
Mayor Eddie DeLoach
The mayor has held this position — one his father also held — since he was first elected in 2016 and hopes to be reelected.
Before becoming mayor, he served as a Chatham County Commissioner for the 7th District from 1992 to 2000. Prior to public service, he and his brother founded a multistate landscaping company called Tidewater Group.
In a past interview with News 3’s Shaynah Ferreira, DeLoach highlighted a decrease in unemployment and poverty rates in the city. He pointed towards gun violence and crime, however, as something that continues to plague the city.
DeLoach also told News 3’s JoAnn Merrigan in May he is most proud of the youth Summer 500 program that gives summer internships to young adults in Savannah. The mayor also talked about the countless SPLOST projects completed during his Administration.
The now-defunct “fire fee” was enacted under DeLoach’s Administration, with the Mayor providing one of the six “yes” votes to it. The program would have taxed the public to provide funding for the fire department but it was thrown out after a loud public outcry.
District 1 Alderman Van Johnson
Johnson has held his current position in District 1 since 2003 and was reelected in 2007 as well as 2011.
Johnson was elected Mayor Pro-Tem in 2012 by his peers on City Council. He’s a graduate from Savannah State and Georgia Southern universities.
He tells News 3 his main motivation for running has been to provide a better person who will genuinely listen to the people. Johnson says he feels there needs to be a unifying figure on the council and he feels he can do that.
Alongside him when he announced he officially qualified for office was fellow Alderman Tony Thomas and former Mayor Otis Johnson.
Thomas previously told News 3, “I think Van brings a vision and I just hope that we can have a group of people that can work together and not caucus behind doors together.”
Johnson came under scrutiny a few months ago for attending a “Black Media Only” event in May. Mayor DeLoach criticized Johnson for attending and the alderman later apologized.
Former State Senator Regina Thomas
Thomas served as a State Senator from 2000 to 2009 after working in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1994 to 1998. Thomas also worked for the City of Savannah in the Purchasing Department before running for office.
This is not the first time Thomas has run for the Office of Mayor in Savannah. She previously ran for the position in 2011 and came in third place.
She also ran for Congress in 2008 and 2010 but lost the election both times.
In an interview with News 3, Thomas said she is most interested in increasing transparency between the city and the public. She also said her campaign will be focused on opening a “forensic audit of all revenue sources” the city has enacted.
“We need to have integrity, we need to have honesty, we need to let the people know that they can trust us,” Thomas told reporters.
Louis E. Wilson, Sr.
Wilson previously ran for mayor in 2015 but lost to Eddie DeLoach.
He is a native of Savannah and served in the U.S. Air Force. He’s previously worked at the Habersham Woods YMCA, as a deputy with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department and currently as a licensed real estate agent.
During his 2015 campaign, Wilson ran on the creation of a high-speed commuter train to Atlanta and Charlotte.
He also advocated for reducing crime by trying to minimize some of the city’s major problems, such as flooding and unemployment.
For more information on qualified candidates in Savannah and surrounding areas, visit Your Local Election Headquarters here.