MANCHESTER, Ky. (WYMT) - The race for mayor in one Eastern Kentucky city is now a little less crowded.
Barbara White Colter, a member of Manchester's city council, said she is dropping out of the race for mayor, less than two months before the election.
Colter said she is quitting for several reasons.
"My husband is not in very good health," Colter said. "He's declining all the time. I'm declining all the time. We have a great granddaughter, we have family. I have a (jewelry) store in London."
Colter said she learned about some of the city's financial problems at a recent council meeting. She believes the problems are too challenging for her to tackle as mayor.
"We went into a closed session and all of a sudden I hear all this stuff and I said, 'You know, I'm not sure I want to be your mayor,'" she said. "And I think they thought I was kidding, but it's really worked on me."
Colter withdrawing from the race means James Ed Garrison, a school bus driver and security guard at Manchester Memorial Hospital, will be elected the town's next mayor unless he is defeated by a write-in candidate.
"I hate that she dropped out," Garrison said of Colter. "It was a shock. Me and her are friends."
Colter still has to file the proper paperwork with the Clay County clerk before officially quitting the race.
Her name will still appear on the ballot in the November election.
Colter and Garrison advanced from the May primary after both received more votes than the incumbent mayor, George Saylor.
Write-in candidates have until October 24 to file to be eligible to receive votes.
One Manchester man, Carl Hoskins, has already filed as write-in candidate for mayor.
Hoskins is a former city council member and loan officer.
"I think (Manchester) needs someone that has government experience and that will be able to go to Frankfort to work with both political parties, Democrats and Republicans, to get things done," Hoskins said.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.
The three candidates on the ballot for Manchester mayor in last week's primary election admitted Tuesday they are all surprised at the results.
James Ed Garrison and Barbara White Colter advanced to the general election in November after both received more votes than incumbent George Saylor.
Garrison garnered 271 votes (42%), Colter got 200 (31%) and Saylor registered 177 (27%) in the nonpartisan race.
"I thought I'd do better than I did," said Saylor, who was running for a second term. "And I actually could have if I got out there and worked it hard. But I didn't. I didn't work it."
Instead Garrison and Colter are headed to the general election.
Garrison is a security guard and school bus driver, while Colter is a business owner and former state representative.
Both said Tuesday they have unique visions for improving Manchester.
"I want to try to move us forward," Garrison said. "I have two kids here and I tell them to leave because there ain't nothing here. And that's what I want to try to do is get something for the kids to do here."
Colter said, "My vision is to maybe get some grants. I know that it's been said there isn't any money, but there is money. The money's out there."
Voters in Manchester still have until November 4 to decide who should be their new mayor.
Saylor said he will help whoever takes over for him make a smooth transition. He also would not rule out another run for public office.
Original story, 5/7/14:
Two candidates for Manchester mayor are at odds over whether the city should adopt a restaurant tax.
Mayor George Saylor and city councilwoman Barbara White Colter both spoke about the issue during a town forum Wednesday night.
Saylor said the tax he wants could generate $160,000 annually for the Clay County town.
"The money can be used in the parks like buying playground equipment or the splash park or the swimming pool," saylor said.
But Colter believes restaurants in town are already struggling enough without any new taxes.
"We only have about seven or eight little restaurants," said Colter, who is a former state representative. "Some of them are locally owned. If you go put another tax on them, they're barely existent. They're going to go out of business."
Saylor said he deserves another term in office because he has cleaned up the city's finances.
"When I came in there, we had no money, no bills paid, checks was bouncing," the mayor said. "And we've got to a place where we are paying our bills and doing a few things."
Colter said her previous experience in government makes her the right person for the job.
"I just feel like with my background and people that I know and the council members that we can just do something to get some more jobs in here,” she said.
The third candidate in the mayoral race, James Ed Garrison, did not participate in the forum.
The two candidates who receive the most votes on May 20 will advance to the general election in November.