Former county commissioner says it's time for a new voice in the office Kent Guinn has held for almost eight years.

Editor's note: This story has been revised to correct the wording in a quote from Barbara Fitos. She said: "I feel that some of the voices in the Ocala community, especially those on the west side, have not been heard."

Former Marion County Commissioner Barbara Fitos is running for Ocala mayor, spurred by recent actions by the current mayor that she felt were inappropriate and hurtful.

Fitos, who served one term on the commission as a Democrat from 2006 to 2010, will seek office for the first time since losing her re-election bid to current Commissioner Carl Zalak in 2010. She filed to run for the non-partisan mayor seat on July 3 and expects to qualify before the noon deadline on Friday.

"It's time for a new voice," Fitos said. "I feel that some of the voices in the Ocala community, especially those on the west side, have not been heard."

Mayor Kent Guinn, who seeks a fifth term in office, embroiled himself in a couple of controversies earlier this year.

In February, Guinn publicly refused to issue a proclamation declaring Ocala a "City of Peace" because Manal Fakhoury was leading the effort.

In arguing against a proclamation, Guinn said he felt Fakhoury’s ties to groups sympathetic to recognized Islamic terrorist groups disqualified her from talking about peace.

"In my opinion, anyone in elected office is absolutely free to disagree and express that opinion, but it is totally inappropriate to make it a personal attack against a constituent," said Fitos, who supported the "City of Peace" effort.

Guinn stood behind his comments. The council, except for President Mary Sue Rich, voted against issuing a resolution with the "city of peace" term. Instead, the council passed a resolution stating Ocala is a compassionate city.

In April, Guinn issued a proclamation recognizing April 26 as Confederate Memorial Day. The move led to calls for Guinn's resignation from some in the community. Guinn defended his decision to issue the proclamation and refused to resign.

"To follow (the 'City of Peace' issue) with a proclamation relative to Confederate Memorial Day, when we as a community have struggled with this issue, is adding insult to injury and not even necessary," Fitos said.

The mayoral post comes with a few powers. While mayors do not vote on ordinances, they do have veto power. The mayor also oversees the Police Department and issues proclamations.

After her stint on the commission, Fitos served as executive director of the Community Foundation Ocala/Marion County until she retired early in 2018.

Earlier this year, Kristofer Daniel Clere also filed to run for the mayoral seat. City elections are Sept. 17.

Contact Carlos E. Medina at 867-4157 or cmedina@starbanner.com