Longtime Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott stunned his colleagues Tuesday, after announcing he was retiring from his post at the end of the year.
During the commission meeting at the Cobb County Government Center, Ott said he would not seek a fourth term as the District 2 representative on the five-member panel.
His announcement means that the county’s District 2 and District 4 seats will not have incumbents on the November ballot.
Ott, employed as a pilot with Delta Air Lines, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he has a few more years left with the company and wants to use that time flying as much as he can. He also talked with his wife to determine if he should run for re-election.
“We decided that it was the right time for retirement,” he said, adding his daughter will graduate from college in the spring.
Ott, 62, told the AJC that he’s not running for commission chairman or any other county or statewide office. He said he’ll wait some time before making any endorsements.
He was first elected to the County Commission in 2008 and was re-elected to four-year terms in 2012 and 2016.
When he campaigned for the District 2 seat more than 10 years ago, Ott said he would originally run for two, four-year terms. However, he decided to run for a third term in 2016 because he wanted to see the completion of projects related to the Atlanta Braves stadium project and the Battery Atlanta, the mixed-use development surrounding the that area.
Ott said his Planning Commission appointee, Andy Smith, has announced he will seek the Republican nomination for the District 2 seat. At least one Democratic candidate, Jerica Richardson, has announced she will also run for the post.
Ott’s speech took his colleagues by surprise Tuesday. District 3 Commissioner JoAnn Birrell provided only a one-word response: “Wow.”
“I for one will miss you, and I say that will all genuineness,” Commission Chairman Mike Boyce added.
In District 4, incumbent Lisa Cupid is expected to vacate her post to challenge Chairman Boyce to lead the commission. Several candidates have filed paperwork declaring their intent to run for the seat: Monica DeLancy, Shelia Edwards, Edwin Mendez, Monique Sheffield, April McDonald, Angelica Pressley, Jonathan Hunt and Elliott Hennington.
Ott used Tuesday’s meeting to reflect on the changes the county, as well as District 2, experienced over the last 10 years. The biggest change, he said, was the Braves move to Cobb in 2013.
“Their choice of Cumberland in the heart of District 2 has been an economic engine that has transformed the Cumberland area,” he said.
He also said Cobb County weathered many challenges over the years, including the “great flood” of 2009 and the Great Recession that forced the county to make steep budget cuts and implement employee furloughs.
Ott told the AJC that the Nov. 3 general election will bring change to the county.
“I think that in politics in general, it’s always a good thing to have change,” he said. “Sometimes, I think people stay in office too long.”
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