Alachua Democrats roiled by pro-Bielarski email


An email that was sent to the Alachua County Democratic Executive Committee (DEC) and also to the Gainesville City Commission, making it a public record, has exposed division within the DEC over support for the various candidates for Gainesville Mayor and has led to a call for the author of the email to resign from the DEC over a violation of the Party Loyalty Oath.

The unsigned email, sent to members of the DEC and the Gainesville City Commission, has the subject, “JOIN FELLOW DEMOCRATS AND SUPPORT ED BIELARSKI FOR GAINESVILLE MAYOR” and encourages members of the DEC to support Bielarski over the registered Democrats in the non-partisan race. The other candidates are David Arreola, Donald Shepherd, July Thomas, and Harvey Ward.

The body of the email begins, “Ed is one of you. He lives in Gainesville. He understands and faces the same issues you do. He may not be a Democrat, but he is a resident of Gainesville. While his opponents offer empty promises and buzzwords that hope to cater to special interests, Ed Bielarski offers tangible solutions to the complicated problems plaguing city hall. This campaign is not about PARTY, it is about PEOPLE. Ed Bielarski offers a mayoral platform that reaches across party lines and gives solutions that everyone, no matter their side of the aisle, can agree to.”

The email then lists contributions from prominent local Democrats to Bielarski’s campaign and concludes, “These individuals have come together across their party line to support a candidate that is not a Democrat, but that nonetheless represents the values they wish to see at city hall. They are proof that democrats, even leaders of the local democratic party, can support someone like Ed. Do not let others shame you. Do not let your party politics bind [sic] you. Support Ed Bielarski for Gainesville Mayor today.”

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Financial records for all candidates may be examined here.

Bottcher calls for the author of the email to resign from the DEC

Susan Bottcher, a Precinct Committeewoman, sent a response to all the recipients of the original email, including an acknowledgment that her email would likely be covered by the media: “(NOTE: The sender of the email below also cc’d the Gainesville City Commission. That means this email is now part of the public record and is accessible by all media.) 

In her response, Bottcher demanded to know who sent the original email: “I want a name, a real name of a real person. This is clearly a campaign piece and should be noted as such in the disclaimer. Saying who it is not from is not sufficient nor is it in any way transparent.”

Bottcher explained why she does not support Bielarski: “He opposed the city’s vaccine and mask mandates and encouraged his GRU employees to loudly protest at city commission meetings against them. These measures were wisely put in place by the commission at the height of the pandemic in an effort to prevent employees, and the public they serve, from getting &/or spreading a deadly disease. The commission’s mandate was the responsible thing to do. I find it offensive that Ed vocally and publicly opposed it and encouraged GRU employees to oppose it too, when – and this is important – as a charter officer he is obligated to carry out the direction given to him by the city commissioners whether he agrees with it or not. That alone is valid grounds for him to have been fired.”

Bottcher then concluded, “Finally, I suspect this email was sent by someone within the DEC, otherwise how did they get our membership mailing list? This violates the Florida Democratic Party’s and the ACDEC’s Loyalty Oath that members are not to publicly support or endorse any non-Democrat over any Democrat running for office. Therefore the sender of this email should come forward, tell us all who he/she is and then resign from the DEC.”

All members of the DEC are required to sign the Loyalty Oath, which states, “I will not support the election of the opponent of any Democratic nominee, I will not oppose the election of any Democratic nominee, nor will I support any non Democrat against a Democrat in any election other than judicial races”

Bottcher did not respond to our request for comment.

Current and former DEC members respond

Ray Moorer, a Precinct Leader who said he sees the Democratic Party in a downward tailspin under the current “regressive” leadership, sent us his reaction to the email and Bottcher’s response: “The sending of this email to the ACDEC’s body is dysfunction at its highest, but when I was given Bottcher’s email reply to read, I was shocked at her response because this is something they brought on themselves and it sounds like it came out of the mouth of a Trump loyalist. For example: ‘I want a name, a real name of a real person.'”

Moorer said the Executive Committee had been frantically “holding back a mutiny” on May 11, and “so many of the membership were whipped up about the Ed Bielarski race. The sad thing is, the so-called ‘Progressives’ (Regressives) have been so disrespectful to African Americans that they walked away in droves.” Moorer said that the loss in African American members in the DEC has resulted in one case in which a State Committeeman was elected who had only been in the Alachua County Democratic Party for 3 months and that he “sparsely attends monthly meetings… [Some] Harvey Ward ‘supporters’ have told Black people in ACDEC Meetings to ‘shut the hell up’ in front of the body. There is no order and respect in this Alachua County Democratic Party.”

Armando Grundy-Gomes, who was named in the original email as a donor to Bielarski’s campaign, sent the following statement to Alachua Chronicle: “First and foremost, the emails sent throughout the DEC are not surprising… My name appeared in one of the emails, and for complete transparency, I resigned from my position as a DEC member in early February 2022.”

Grundy-Gomes also told us he believes the progressives in the DEC are “fake allies” who want to “over police Black people, which is something that many Black people and I are tired of. Edward Bielarski will receive the maximum allowed for donations from me.” He cited Harvey Ward’s recent vote to begin the process of reinstating the open container ordinance as an example of an “Anti-Black” policy. Grundy-Gomes said that in addition to a $600 donation to Bielarski’s campaign and his intention to donate the maximum to that campaign, he has donated $100 to July Thomas and $20.22 to David Arreola.


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