BY JENNIFER CABRERA AND LEN CABRERA
ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – The August 23 election provides a rare opportunity for much-needed change in Gainesville and Alachua County – with four school board seats and four city commission seats on the ballot, majorities can be won on those boards that can reverse the policies that have led to poor school performance and a dysfunctional City government.
It’s time for voters to step outside their comfort zones and their preferred parties, look around, and realize many things have gotten objectively worse here in the past six years. The City of Gainesville and the school district are run by interim administrators. There are panhandlers on every corner. Your power bill is the highest it’s ever been. Your progressive heroes—who all promised to make things better for their “neighbors”—just thumbed their noses at you and voted to rezone all of Gainesville, in spite of massive turnout by the very people who worked to get them elected.
It’s time for change.
We weren’t planning on endorsing candidates in this campaign, but too many people aren’t familiar with the issues or the people who created the problems, so here is our voting guide for the 2022 Primary Election:
This is the only election in which every race has two opponents with positions that are in stark contrast: there are essentially two “slates” that are running for the four school board seats, and every citizen in Alachua County gets to vote for all four seats.
One slate unanimously advocated for the forced masking of students (three of them were directly involved with making sure children were masked, and one advocated for forced masking in public comments at school board meetings), and their disdain for parental rights is clear. The other slate supports parental rights and wants to focus resources on teachers and the classroom instead of continually increasing the administrative staff.
There is simply no choice for parents who are dismayed by the direction our school district has taken over the past few years, and it’s not enough to just vote for some of them–at least three of these four must be elected if you want a change for Alachua County Public Schools:
8th Judicial Circuit Judge
Although Sean Brewer’s fundraising totals dwarf all the other candidates, character and integrity must be the top considerations in selecting a judge, and we recommend voting for Nathan Skop. Also, if you read Alachua Chronicle on a daily basis, you know that there is a revolving door at the county jail, and many charges are dropped, even for violent and gun crimes. Because of this, we cannot support a candidate who comes from the current State Attorney’s Office.
City of Gainesville
These races favor different flavors of left-leaning candidates, and the only one we can really endorse is Jo Lee Beaty (District 2) because of her years of attending city commission meetings, often bringing up issues hidden in consent agendas. Her attention to detail and common-sense approach will benefit every resident of Gainesville.
With that said, if you are unhappy with the changes in Gainesville over the past few years, from panhandlers and increasing crime to exorbitant GRU bills, you should not vote for anyone associated with the current city commission, including Harvey Ward, David Arreola, and Bryan Eastman. Any candidate who presents himself as “progressive” does not deserve your vote: the progressives have run Gainesville into the ground, and it’s time to go in a different direction.
Candidates we think will do the least damage (other than Beaty, these are not endorsements):
Mayor – Ed Bielarski, Gary Gordon
District 2 – Jo Lee Beaty (endorsed), Ed Book
District 3 – Dejeon Cain
District 4 – Christian Newman
Plan to vote
You have lots of options for voting, so figure out now when and where you will vote.
Early voting runs August 13-20, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at these locations:
- Supervisor of Elections Office: 515 N. Main Street, Gainesville, FL 32601
- Millhopper Branch Library: 3145 NW 43rd St, Gainesville, FL 32606
- Tower Road Branch Library: 3020 SW 75th St, Gainesville, FL 32608
- Orange Heights Baptist Church:16700 FL-26, Hawthorne, FL 32640
- Legacy Park Multipurpose Center: 15400 Peggy Rd, Alachua, FL 32615
- J. Wayne Reitz Union: 655 Reitz Union Drive, UF Campus, Gainesville, FL 32611
- Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center: 23100 W Newberry Rd, Newberry, FL 32669 (New for this election)
You can also vote on Election Day, August 23, at your precinct, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. You can find your voting location here.