Statesboro City Councilman John Riggs, who represents District 4, announced Tuesday morning he will not seek re-election.
The longest-serving current council member, Riggs intends to complete his third term through December, capping his service at 12 years. He has made this decision since the last week of January. That week, phone calls to the three Statesboro city officials up for election this year – Riggs, District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum and Mayor Jonathan McCollar – resulted in all three saying that they planned to run, but with Riggs using the phrase “at this moment” and Boyum “at this time.”
“After much consideration I have decided not to run for a fourth term as representative for District 4 on the Statesboro City Council,” Riggs began his remarks during Tuesday’s 9 a.m. regular council meeting. “It has been my privilege and honor to serve. …”
His announcement opens the field to other potential candidates who reside in District 4. Surrounded by District 3 on one side and District 5 on the other, District 4 encompasses part of the Georgia Southern University campus and a concentration of neighborhoods east of it across Fair Road. It is the most compact of the five districts. A map of the council voting districts can be found at www.statesboroga.gov/maps.
“… And the mayor, I don’t believe he understood what I meant this morning because he challenged me to a fight out in the hall,” Riggs continued, to laughter from McCollar and others at Tuesday’s meeting. “I am not running for mayor.”
The date of the nonpartisan city election is Nov. 2. The qualifying period for candidates for the two council seats and the mayor’s office is still three months away. It will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 16, and end at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20. The qualifying fees, based on 3% of the annual salary for each office, are $227 for council candidates and $560 for mayoral candidates.
Riggs has long been an advocate for public safety measures, including increased police and fire department staffing and pay. He served as mayor pro tempore by choice of the other council members in 2018 and 2019.
Since McCollar’s election in 2017 and the election of new council members, all women, in Districts 2, 3 and 5 in 2019, Riggs has occasionally opposed some of what the mayor and his supporters see as progressive moves. For example, Riggs in October cast the only vote against adoption of the city’s Nondiscrimination and Equity Ordinance but said this had to do with its creation of a marginal preference for female- and minority-owned businesses in bidding for city contracts, and not with nondiscrimination protections.
“I love everybody, and I show it every day to everyone that I see, and I do not discriminate, and I cannot vote for this ordinance because it discriminates,” he said then. “This ordinance has many, many wonderful things in it that I am wholly in favor of, but I cannot I vote for them because of the discrimination.”
He had also seconded the motion to bring the ordinance to a vote.
After Riggs’ announcement Tuesday, the mayor praised him for his amicable service and honesty about his views on issues.
“John, we’re going to miss you. …,” McCollar said. “From Day One, John has been a gentle soul. He welcomed me with open arms. Any time I had any questions or needed just to have a conversation, John was always open to the conversation.”
Both are active supporters of Statesboro High School sports, and McCollar noted that his family did business with Riggs’ father, a pharmacist and drugstore owner, for years.
“We just want to say thank you for everything you’ve done, thank you having such a gentle heart,” McCollar said. “That means so much, especially during this time period, to have someone in your presence who has a heart for people and just wanting to do the right thing.”
Joking aside, Riggs is not running for mayor or any other office, he told the Statesboro Herald after the meeting. Now 51, he is self-employed real estate appraiser in Statesboro and also has no plans to move anywhere.
“I’ll still be in the same place and have the same concerns,” Riggs said. “I hope that I’ll be just as involved with my neighborhood and my district as I have been the last 12 years. … It’s just time. I’ve been there for three terms, and three terms is enough.”