Burch withdraws from council race
City Councilmember Jim Burch has done an about-face in the 11 days since filing the required paperwork and paying the fees with the City Clerk’s office on the final day of qualifying in order to run for re-election to his District 1 seat.
He was the last of the 18 candidates to qualify, and now he is the first to drop out.
Burch announced his withdrawal Tuesday, but has yet to do it officially. He said there are other matters to which he would like to devote more time.
“I think it’s unfair to the city to commit to four years if there are others (things) I would like to do,” Burch said. “I’ve been back and forth for a long time and the time gave me more time to think. I see the opportunity to do some things I want to do outside the council, so just step aside and let someone else take over. If I can’t go all in at 110 percent, I won’t do it.”
Burch said he does not like the political scene in the city, the state and the nation, in fact, he calls it abysmal.
“Primarily, I believe that people who say things should mean it,” Burch said. “I believe if you run for office, you should stay in that office. There is a pattern among politicians everywhere that they say things to get elected and not hold to it.”
Burch withdrawing from the race leaves three candidates to battle for the District 1 seat: James Foraker, John Gunter and Graham Morris. Voters also will be electing council representatives for Districts 4, 5 and 6 in addition to Mayor in the city’s Sept. 12 Primary and Nov. 7 General elections.
Burch said he is comfortable with the candidates running for his seat.
“I think they are good people and qualified to hold the office,” he said.
Months ago, Burch said publicly on several occasions that he would not seek re-election. Then, in late June, after some deep soul searching, announced that he would run after all.
“I am not a career politician, never want to be and never will be,” Burch said at the time.
He still sticks by that belief, but as far as ever running again for public office in the future, he said, “Never say never to anything, but this is the first chance I’ve had to breathe after visiting with family.”
City Council has been on a four-week hiatus from its regular meetings. Council starts meeting again on Monday.
Burch is finishing up his second stint on council. He was the District 1 member in 2007-08 and Mayor in 2009.
Burch has been a workhorse for the city by occupying seats on the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, Horizon Council, Metropolitan Planning Organization and working on city issues associated with pre-platted communities with the Florida Legislature.