by Joe Courter
Please, if you live in the City of Gainesville, do not ignore the upcoming election on March 20. Voters on the Eastside (District 1) will have two races on their ballot, the rest of the City but one race, but who we elect and what they prioritize is important.
Everyone registered to vote can vote in the At-Large race. It features two candidates, the incumbent, Harvey Budd, against challenger Gail Johnson.
Harvey has a long and solid history in Gainesville. He is an accountant by trade and has been active in the community as a property owner and Plan Board member. He has been on the Commission for one term, during which he has tried to be a financial watchdog and seeker of compromise. He is a good guy and has served well, but it is his luck in this wave election to have Gail Johnson step in to run for his seat.
Gail has arrived just as a desire for change, for women’s and minority voices and perspective, has crested. With long ties to Gainesville, and as granddaughter to a beloved Gainesville icon Joseph Judge, Gail has gone from Eastside High School and minimum wage work to now being a single Mom with a successful catering business that pays its workers a living wage.
She has energized a broad coalition of support in her campaign, stressing a balance in where the City puts its resources and development, and arguing that we need to stop just talking about solutions but start doing things directly to help people in need. Her life experience and desire to bring her skills to another level of impact in our community won us over to her. VOTE GAIL JOHNSON.
The District One race has three candidates. Incumbent Charles Goston and two challengers, Gigi Simmons and Tyra “Loudd” Edwards. We feel that either of the women running would be better than the incumbent, bringing fresh energy and perspective to the seat, and as often happens in a three-way race, this may come down to a runoff between him and one of the challengers, thus voter turnout is really important to keep Goston from the 50 percent + one, as his name recognition and business community money gives him an advantage in this race.
Both women have brought themselves up from poverty in Gainesville. Ty has closer ties to the grassroots struggles, including firsthand experience with homelessness. She has been an active citizen both at Commission meetings and as a community organizer.
Gigi’s path took her into public service in the City with work in the Department of Parks and Recreation and as a Technician with Planning and Development. She is a small business owner of Simmons Tax Services. She is also a fourth generation resident of the Porters Community.
Goston is known for making dubious claims and unfulfilled promises, and his most recent idea of large illuminated signs promoting Eastside businesses was not only illegal but ludicrous. Time for him to go. Get out the Eastside vote, and between the two women we say VOTE GIGI SIMMONS. D