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Cornell raises possibility of putting an amendment on the ballot to overturn single-member districts

Commissioner Ken Cornell asks the County Attorney for a memorandum about amending the County Charter

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – During General Public Comment at the December 6 Alachua County Commission Special Meeting, Kali Blount talked about the mailers that were sent from Leading for our Future PAC with quotes from County Commissioner Chuck Chestnut, then-State Senate Candidate Rodney Long, and the NAACP, supporting the Single-Member District Charter Amendment. Blount said he received multiple mailers and also saw billboards that told him to vote “yes” on single-member districts. He said he saw a woman at the Publix on Main Street with a “giant handful” of the handouts, “and turned out she knew next to nothing about the topic, that she was being paid to distribute these things.” 

Blount urged “the circulation of… a list, if we had a list of all the people who said, ‘My vote was influenced by that publicity that I now know was a lie,’ that the outcome would have absolutely been affected… If there were a judge to talk to right now, or a state election commission, that vote should be thrown out and voted all over again.” He added that it is “insidious” that local governments can’t spend money on “public education about ballot issues, so this false information that went out at the last minute, just before the election, could not be counteracted by the body most affected.”

Blount also said that State Rep. Chuck Clemons and State Senator Keith Perry “should be barred from public office for deliberately distorting an election in that manner. This is very dirty politics… I’m afraid of what our [Board of County Commissioners] will look like in the future.”

Commissioner Ken Cornell said that “not less than 20 people, probably, give me that same speech on the phone,” and he asked if there was any objection to asking the County Attorney’s Office to prepare a memo “which the public could read… if the public would like to go through the process of putting that issue back on the ballot, what’s involved in accordance with our local constitution.” He asked if anybody objected to that, and a few responses of “Nope” could be heard. 

Cornell continued, “I think we know the Charter Review [Commission] can put it on, three of us could put something on the ballot, but I think the public was asking me, if we wanted to put it on the ballot, what’s involved, what are the dates, what are the timelines, how many number of ballots need to be signed, who needs to approve the language. That’s a lot more, so if the Attorney’s Office could provide a memo that the public could just have and read and understand, that would be great.”

Chestnut said that as a canvassing board member, he couldn’t be involved in any political campaigns, and the “most shocking thing” to him in the single-member district campaign “was the single-member district item with my photo. And that photo and comments were not mine. They were not mine. I didn’t give permission for that to occur, you know. And so I was walking a fine line between serving the canvassing board and responding to something that was false, you know.” He said the legislature might need to get involved to give canvassing board members “the authority to at least respond to something that is false.”

He added that he thinks the NAACP “is looking to take legal action. I don’t know where they are with that process, but I will join in that process. So I just think this dirty politics stuff and this false information has to stop. And if it’s our right to put it back on the ballot in the future, I support it… And please don’t use my name like that again, because then I think that I’ll go down fighting for my right as an individual and my name and not to defame my name in that manner, to trick people into voting for something that I did not agree to.”

Although it is true that Chestnut did not support this year’s charter amendment ballot initiative, the quote is accurate and is taken from a 1994 Gainesville Sun article about adopting single-member districts for the City of Gainesville. The quote can be seen in context here.

  • cornell is afraid that he and his conglomerate will lose control of their profitable mini fiefdom.

  • Even though a Gainesville Sun article exploring the change to single district reported that the outcomes in the last election would have not changed, they are afraid…and they should be.

    The article simply used voting records based on non-single member districts. Although I voted and my candidate did not win, would others be more inclined to vote from outside the City boundaries knowing that their vote had become more important?

    The Republican Party must make this difference more important in the next County Commission election. Outlying communities need to understand the change that can take place by overcoming the Gainesville lock on County government.

  • If someone told Mr. Blount to go jump off a bridge would he? Oh, wait, I’m sure he voted for Charlie “I can’t make up my mind” Crist, because that’s what he was told to do. People were told to vote for Harvey “two-face” Ward as well. He may even still believe the BS the city and county have been telling him for years now. I seriously doubt he doesn’t/hasn’t used his soapbox to try to influence people to vote for the candidates and proposals he favors. Why should we expect anything else but hypocrisy from another true blue Democrat?

    It’s funny, the people who scream racism the loudest are some of the biggest racists.

    • Blount wants to keep his “house” position on the plantation and continue to be a race hustler instead of getting a real job. If the community could get regular jobs instead of having to work at Checkers, they wouldn’t even listen to him. He sounds like he’d sell everybody down the Santa Fe River for two dollars a pop.

  • Cornell doing what he does best to keep the peasants happy on the plantation. This is the same Cornell who doesn’t enjoy conversation with the “hired help” until election time rolls around.

    I guess we know what they’re doing with some of the ARPA funds, trying to silence the voters who voted “yes” for single member districts.

    • Every word of Cornell’s ceaseless bleating about this is an admission that he does not perceive himself to be the representative of the voters in district 3.

      But instead of doing constituent service for the folks in district 3 to earn their support, his effort goes toward getting the local machine to put his preferred voting base back under him.

  • Corndog should try to exhibit a little grace and some integrity, as hard as that might be for him to muster up. The people voted. It’s time to hang up the racist plantation system and move on. Hogghead real estate is having enough reputation troubles lately.

  • Blount should urge the members of the black community to realize the importance of the family unit in a child’s life. The importance of staying in school. The importance of parental involvement in their child’s education, (not just the athletic parts). While he’s at it, maybe he should put more conviction into the message of black on black crime and the stereotypes it causes. You know, that same “guilty by association” people with conservative values have with those idiots who stormed the Capital on January 6.

    Ironic isn’t it? Cornell uses his Charter Review Commission to get things on the ballot as much, if not more, than he uses it to keep things off the ballot. It’s his own privatized little police force.

    • I remember you, Ken Cornell, at a meeting in Tallahassee, saying and I’m paraphrasing, that only only a few people want to change to single member districts. My response has been that if Mr Cornell is so sure he is correct then he should not be worried about letting everyone have the opportunity to vote. You were wrong Mr Cornell, along with the other three commissioners who were against it and the eleven of twelve on the Charter Review Commission. All of you ignored our requests to place this on the ballet.
      You don’t like the outcome so let’s try again?? It was voted on, it passed, move on. It’s called democracy!

  • Let’s put an amendment on the ballot while we’re at it to reverse the pay raise the GNV city commissioners just gave themselves too..

  • Don’t like the results? Ask for a do over. None of us thought they would be happy with the result. It takes power from them and gives it to the people.

    • It’s just sickening that we can’t live in a normal community with normal elected representatives. It’s always one crazy thing after another without any return to normalcy. Is Corndog getting his legal advice from Hogghead’s in-house “attorney”?

  • WOW! Cornhole sounds just like Trump…only with smaller hands.

  • Mini Small Minded Kenny Cornell. Predjudice Loser and taking AC down with him. Not sure that redirecting funds is legal, but when did that stop him and Paryroll thefts by Alford when in office illegaly. When is she paying is back?

  • Cornell: “Not less than 20 people”, and Blount was influenced by the flyers! Where is the data supporting Cornell’s statement? If he had names, I’m sure he would have worded his statement using them, along with correct grammar! Lordy, how did Blount fill out his own ballot if he is so easily influenced by a piece of paper that the Democratic party had plenty of time to debunk if they chose, and they certainly tried!

    This is merely Cornell using his county cronies to support his personal fight with State Rep. Chuck Clemons! Hey little boy, why didn’t you run against Clemons? The whole AC BOCC and GNV CC is full of small time career politicians who just keep getting reelected! Literally criminals and thieves living off honest taxpayers, and of course their handles who pay them a lot more than their county/city salary!

    As an independent, I don’t sell my soul to the Democrats or Republicans! I think the Republican party of AC fell on its collective arse this past November! They were not visible on the street corners or neighborhoods until Election Day! The AC Democrats will provide honest AC taxpayers with nothing for the next two years and still beat the pants off the Republicans! Time for a 3rd Party! Come on Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Kyrsten Sinema, and of course Ron DeSantis!

  • I DONT WANT TO KNOW. PLEASE PROVIDE A LIST OF THOSE WHO WANT IT AND DOES IT MEET THE SIGNATURE REQUIERMENTS IN FORM AND FASHION TO DO SO. THIS GUY IS A POS AND SOC=COM WHO NEEDS TO BE REPLACED. LETS PUT SOMEONE ON THE BALLOT WHO CAN DO A BETTER JOB.

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