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Proposed charter amendments voters will see on their ballot in the presidential election

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - From small things like changing the name of the Gainesville Clerk of the Commission to City Clerk to bigger things like protecting ecosystems in Alachua County.

“The natural resource ballot question just recognizes that ecosystems and taking care of the environment is not something that should depend on how lines are drawn on a map within a county,” said Mark Sexton the Director of Communications for Alachua County.

The question addressing strategic ecosystems was proposed by the county commission to be on the ballot for voters to decide.

“These are the areas around the county that the county commission are crucial to preserve in order to preserve what makes Alachua County a special place.”

Cities within the county can also create policies that are more protective of these ecosystems.

Sexton said the other question proposed, “Considers gender, race and would require the county to do a review every year of new policies and existing policies to look for any gender or racial bias within the language.”

In the city of Gainesville two of the smaller issues voters will decide include changing the name from Clerk of the Commission to City Clerk and adding a preamble to the charter. If approved one of the four amendments would give power to the people.

“Since the charter was created we have created a natural gas system and also a telecommunications system as well. So this charter amendment actually brings those two utility systems in line with other utilities. If the city ever if want to sell our utilities it would go the voters,” said Gainesville City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos.

The other proposal would eliminate restrictions on constructions of paved surfaces on city owned land.

“That would allow the city to be able to move forward on building a trail Greenway that will be added accessible. I think that is one of the most important things that all of our residents can access trails and currently that is not possible with the language that is in the charter.”

This would allow all residents to get outdoors “One of the number one things our community wants is better trails, networks and being able to get outside more.”

Commissioner Hayes-Santos believes this is something the community needs during this time.

“During COVID that’s going to come to life even more that there needs to be more opportunities for people to be able to get outside and also would help with a variety of commuting options too.”

The city of Gainesville review commission and the Alachua County review commission each have 11 people. The charter review occurs every 10 years with the next one happening in 2030.

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