SOCIAL CIRCLE -- City Councilman David Keener has ended his campaign for mayor.
Keener made his announcement Friday through a press release in which he stated, "I am extremely saddened to announce my decision to withdraw from this year's Social Circle mayoral race."
Keener said his campaign began to turn from a message of proactive plans for the city to one where he was on defense, deflecting false rumors.
Keener, who has represented District 3 since 2009, announced in June his intention to run for mayor. Soon after, two other residents -- Hosea Jackson and Hal Dally -- threw their hats in the ring. Mayor Jim Burgess has said he does not plan to seek re-election.
Official qualifying for municipal elections runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2.
"As I began my campaign earlier this year, I felt vibrant and good about the support I was receiving as I visited Social Circle's neighborhoods and spoke about my positive campaign platform," Keener said in his release. "Somewhere along the way, rumors began to be spread about me that were unwarranted and completely untrue. These rumors have turned my campaign into one in which I constantly have to battle with the negativity."
Keener said the citizens of Social Circle deserve the right to make electoral decisions based on the merits of the candidates and not be subjected to negative campaigns.
In his release, Keener addressed two persistent rumors.
The first was the allegation that he intended to eliminate the Department of Public Safety, leaving the responsibility for law enforcement in the city with the Walton County Sheriff's Office.
"The facts are, I never had a plan to eliminate our Department of Public Safety and I have never spoken with Sheriff (Joe) Chapman concerning the provisioning of such services for our community," Keener stated.
He added that he believes it is in the best interest of Social Circle to maintain a "mutually beneficial and healthy relationship with our county government."
The second rumor Keener sought to dispel involves the role of the city manager.
He said many people have come to believe that if elected mayor, he would seek to change the form of government by eliminating the position of city manager and placing those responsibilities -- and pay -- with the mayor.
"The fact is, our present form of city government has worked well for us, and I believe it is our best interest to continue with the services of a full-time city manager together with our mayor and council," Keener said.
Keener said dropping out of the mayor's race was a very difficult decision, but he was committed to not participating in a negative campaign. Instead, he said, he will retain his position on the City Council.
In the meantime, Keener has kept his website, www.davidkeenerformayor.com, so that people can read about his positions.