In the nonpartisan election on Nov. 3, current Councilman James Queen and political newcomers David Leister and D. George Smith are running to replace outgoing Mayor Bill Walker, who's retiring at the end of his term in December.
Early voting ended Friday, and only one Nelson resident has cast a ballot so far.
Advanced voting is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday at the Pickens County Elections Office at 50 N. Main St. in Jasper. For information, call (706) 253-8781.
Election Day voting will take place at Nelson City Hall from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. The winner of the election will serve as mayor for four years.
Smith, 67, said he is running to bring positive change in Nelson.
"I thought I was the man to do that," said Smith, who has lived in Nelson for eight years.
Smith said he wants to see the police department obtain better equipment such as newer cars and radios.
The city, he said, also needs to stick to its variance and rezoning process instead of allowing businesses to bypass the process, which he alleges has been done under the current council.
"In other words, everyone should be treated fairly," he said. "If they need a variance, they should apply for it. It shouldn't be an arbitrary issue."
He also said he's concerned about Nelson having adequate fire protection.
He said he would like to see the city operate its own, full-time volunteer fire department that would fall under the Pickens County Fire/Rescue Departments and would have at least one full-time firefighter.
Smith is a licensed private detective and is semi-retired from the law enforcement field. He and his wife, Cindy, have one adult son and two grandchildren.
He has attended classes at Kennesaw State University and various law enforcement programs. A Roman Catholic, he attends church in Marietta.
Queen, 62, first was elected to the council in 2001.
He said he's running for mayor to bring in more commercial businesses including into the Nelson Station industrial park, and wants to build more sidewalks in the city.
As for the police department, Queen said he believes it's "doing pretty good now the way it is," but added he wants another full-time officer on staff. The department currently has one full-time police chief and a part-time assistant chief.
When asked about whether the city is following its rezoning and variance laws, Queen said he does think the city has stuck to its code.
The issue recently was raised by residents during the September council meeting.
The council unanimously approved a request from Tom Post to open an auto detailing shop at 2323 Canton Road. Post did not go through the city's Nelson and Planning Zoning Commission, which is required by city ordinance.
A native of Nelson, Queen is retired from the commercial construction industry and attends Bethesda Baptist Church in Nelson.
While he's only lived in Nelson for a year and a half, David Leister, 56, said he's running for mayor because of his high hopes for the city.
"I became concerned when people began saying 'let it die,'" he said of how people feel about the city. "I don't think Nelson should just fade away."
Leister said his top goal is to attract more commercial businesses. His initial push would be for a convenience store, so the city can have a "security blanket" when it comes to bringing in revenue through sales taxes.
"For the city of Nelson to not have a convenience store where you can buy bread, milk and eggs is just troubling to me," he said
Also, as Nelson sits on the Cherokee-Pickens county line, the council should reach out to both county governments to "utilize all the resources available to us and taking advantage of the talent on both sides of the line."
Leister, who works in the computer information processing field, has four children.