NCFL Election Preview: Alachua County Commission District 1
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Mary Alford and incumbent Raemi Eagle Glenn are running against each other in District 1.
If that sounds familiar, they previously ran against each other in 2020, with Alford coming out victorious.
It does not end there.
Alford resigned from her seat in May after it was discovered she was not living in her district.
She said this is due to family health problems that she had to address, “I wasn’t going to make excuses, I knew I was wrong, and I wanted to do the right thing, so I resigned. I couldn’t tell anyone that I wasn’t in the wrong, but I had been working hard to try and make it right” said Alford.
After Alfords resignation, governor Ron Desantis appointed her former opponent Raemi Eagle Glenn to the District 1 seat.
She took office in June as the first republican on the board since 2014, “I bring an outsider perspective that sort of breaks up the echo chamber. I am able to bring a perspective that allows the other commissioners to maybe have a second thought about the direction they were going.”
During Eagle Glenn’s 4 months in office, she said her main priority has been public safety and that will continue to be her focus if elected.
This includes raising the salary of sheriff’s deputies.
“We can’t have a sheriff’s office that is essentially defunct because they are scrambling to cover their shifts and scrambling keep the personnel that they have to prevent them from leaving to another municipality that pays higher. We can’t continue on as a model community if we don’t have our public safety under control” said Eagle Glenn.
Mary Alford said she planned on running again for the District 1 seat after resigning and settling her residency issue.
She said one of her proudest accomplishments in-office is tackling affordable housing.
Specifically, through a program to provide grants to landlords to do energy efficiency upgrades in exchange for maintaining the property as affordable housing.
“That’s a good bit of money for a landlord. 15,000 per apartment. And the landlords were complaining about the renter’s rates ordinance because they said they were not able to afford the upgrades, well this takes care of that problem” said Alford.
Alford is also running an environmentally conscious campaign, using no flyers or mailers.
One of the major ballot items for November’s election includes the additional half cent sales tax for Wild Spaces Public Places.
Alford supports the half cent increase, “It does not just include infrastructure improvements, but it will also provide a small amount for affordable housing to buy the properties for that and the economic development that surrounds affordable housing and it will also help us build some more much-needed fire stations” said Alford.
Raemi Eagle Glenn says she still doesn’t know how she’ll vote, saying the ballot question was written very vaguely and doesn’t clearly outline how much of the tax will go toward affordable housing versus roads. “The commission made a decision after the ballots are being printed for 30% to go towards affordable housing and 70% towards roads but if that aspect of the ordinance isn’t being voted on by the people what’s going to prevent it from changing a month after it passes”
Another ballot item is on a proposal for the county commission to move to single member districts.
Eagle Glenn said she will be voting for because it would bring a culture change to the board, “Because of the population density in the city of Gainesville that area dictates the entire makeup of the county commission and that is why we have a monoculture on the county commission.”
Mary Alford does not support it because she said she wants to represent the entire county, “I do not want to be fighting for resources and budget dollars with other commissioners. I want to be working as a team not adversaries” said Alford
Neither candidate’s stance on the ballot question is surprising.
This is a republican versus democrat issue.
A change to single member districts would likely bring a greater republican presence to a democrat dominated board.
Early voting begins Monday, October 24th.
Election day is November 8th.
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