BY LEN AND JENNIFER CABRERA
Alachua Chronicle will not be making an endorsement in tomorrow’s City Commission Special Runoff Election because we don’t think either candidate brings anything new to the commission. We may be wrong, and if that turns out to be true, we may change our view of the winner of this race over time.
A major weakness in the Gainesville City Commission, the Alachua County Commission, and among the elected members of the school board is the lack of dissenting voices. When everyone on the dais agrees on most issues, board members never have to defend their policies in a discussion with their fellow elected officials; they are free to dismiss 3-minute citizen comments with a response that avoids the real arguments or ignores them entirely. If their response to the citizen’s comment is incorrect or evasive, the citizen has no opportunity to respond.
We need people with diverse views sitting on the dais, people who will be able to make good arguments for policies that lead to good governance. This fall, the mayor, three city commissioners, two county commissioners, and three school board members will be elected. If you disagree with the decisions of those boards, you should be actively looking for good candidates for those seats. If you are interested in running, now is the time to start getting involved – follow the issues, show up at meetings, and make public comment so everyone can see what you would bring to the seat you are seeking. Good governance starts with active, informed, and involved citizens, but that’s not enough–it is necessary for people to step up and run for office. If good candidates do not come forward, Gainesville and Alachua County will continue on the current path.