FITZGERALD -- Someone's trying to take the Gerald out of Fitzgerald.

Incumbent Mayor Gerald H. Thompson could lose the position he has held for 37 years Tuesday if challenger Prentiss Brown beats him in the runoff election.

Thompson finished on top with 630 votes in a three-way mayoral race in November but did not gain 50 percent of the overall vote. Brown finished with 447 votes and the other challenger, Herbert L. Jones, had 257.

Despite the challenge from Brown and the length of the campaign, the mayor feels confident.

"I've been in a lot of elections, but I'll win this one, too," Thompson said.

However, his opponent feels that Fitzgerald needs change after nearly 40 years under Thompson's leadership.

"It's just time for a change," Brown said. "I think he's a good man, but the politics he uses have gotten outdated and need to be improved upon."

Thompson said that he is from the "old school" and would not comment on his opponent or his opponent's opinions. Instead the mayor said he would bring more of the qualities voters have supported for decades.

"My primary thrust over the full period of my tenure has been community and economic development," he said.

He said that he helped bring more than 45 industries to Fitzgerald and he said that when you provide jobs, housing and recreation "the other things will take care of themselves."

"We've furnished jobs for our county and those around us to a large extent," Thompson said.

Brown said he wants new growth in the city, however.

"I don't think Fitzgerald is in bad shape," he said. "It's okay, we can just improve on what have, and here lately, we've not had the improvements we've needed to grow."

Brown said he would bring better-paying jobs, big industry, a youth center for community activities, better pay and affordable health insurance for city employees and improvements to city streets and parks. He said that since he is retired he can devote full time to the office.

Advance voting for the election is being held today at the Board of Elections office. The election Tuesday will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Fire Department at 315 E. Pine St.

"We invite everyone to get out and vote," Thompson said. "It's a very important right that we have that we don't execute enough."

To contact reporter Dusty Vassey, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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