by Joe Courter
[Before getting into the races, a word about voter registration. If you are here as a resident, I would assume you are registered and will vote. If you are a student or just temporarily here, I encourage you to register in Alachua County while you are here. You will be representing the future students or other newcomers to the area on the issues most important to you. The elections office is right downtown and very helpful. For this election what party you are does not matter, as city elections, when it comes to voting, are non-partisan.]
The City of Gainesville will be holding elections for three commission seats on Tuesday, March 11. The deadline for candidates to enter the races is Jan. 20, so there may be others joining the fray after press time, but here is where it stands now.
Two races are District seats, with the incumbents pretty sure of re-election as there doesn’t seem to be any major controversies or strong opposition. District 2 is Todd Chase, and District 3 is Susan Bottcher.
The former is on the Conservative side, the latter on the Liberal side, and each has one minor largely self-funded opponent at this time. That’s not to say they are shoe-ins, but that is how it looks now.
The majorly contested race will be the At-Large seat currently held by the term-limited Thomas Hawkins. The two major candidates of the four currently entered are Annie Orlando and Helen Warren. Each are longtime Gainesville residents, and both are socially liberal and environmentally minded. The big difference between them is that Orlando is in the race as an opponent of the way the biomass plant was contracted and built, and also a person who felt personally wronged by the way the solar feed-in program was run.
She is getting support from the small but vocal Tea Party City Commission bashing side of the spectrum, while Warren is more in line with the mainstream center left Democrats currently on the commission. The Iguana will have a voters guide in the March edition, when we can see how the candidates have shaken out, but having known Helen for 30-plus years as a solid and well-grounded person, I definitely lean toward her.