Mayor Ward justifies decision to vote yes on higher commission salaries

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Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 5:20 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Mayor Harvey Ward says he changed his mind about a higher commissioner salary after comments from his peers and the public.

Ward voted along with Commissioners, Cythina Chestnut, Bryan Eastman, Reina Saco, and Casey Willits to not approve Commissioner Ed Book’s motion to stop a pay raise in October. The raise would nearly double the salaries of the commissioners and the mayor. Mayor Ward initially voted against the pay raise in December.

“I wasn’t entirely convinced yet, I wasn’t entirely convinced,” said the Mayor.

RELATED STORY: Mayor Ward reverses course, Gainesville Commission pay raise moving forward

Ward was later convinced by fellow commissioners and residents who spoke to him before Book’s motion. During the meeting where the decision was made, only one resident voted in favor of the pay raises with several other being vocally against it.

“If we want people to be able to leave their professional positions and basically take a leave of absence for a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of eight years to be a part of the people’s business there has to be some compensation for that,” said Mayor Ward.

Ward also pointed to Alachua County Commissioners already making a similar salary to the rate that the city is basing the commission’s new pay on. State figures show county commissioners make just under $90,000 yearly. The new pay rate for city commissioners and the mayor kicks in on Oct. 1.

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