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Gainesville’s ‘lame-duck’ season, and how it affects the owners through January | Rare Techy


With the general election approaching on Nov. 8, Gainesville’s political landscape will welcome new faces as the majority of the Gainesville City Commission will be replaced in January.

Most of the seven commissioners will reach the end of their terms in January. Commissioners David Arreola, Adrian Hayes-Santos, Harvey Ward and Mayor Lauren Poe.

Ward was the front-runner to replace Poe in the November runoff, receiving 27.94% of the vote in the primary. He is facing former Gainesville Regional Utilities director Ed Bielarski.

Although the end of terms is a part of every political cycle, the majority of commissioners have not been elected in decades.

This “lame-duck” period — when elected officials remain in office but are not re-elected — forces commissioners to prepare parts of the final rules to ensure their legacy.

Danielle Stoughton, a 21-year-old political science major, said the suspension would allow officers to focus on politics that could affect their votes.

“You don’t have to worry about re-election,” Stoughton said. “You can push for policies that you think are really important.”

In recent months, many lame-duck officials have focused on affordable housing laws. Most recently, the city passed the repeal of the exclusion zone on October 17, making it the first city in Florida to do so.

The law, which passed 4-3, allows multi-family buildings to be built on sites previously zoned for single-family homes. Ward was the only commissioner among four externally appointed officials to vote against the policy.

There was significant opposition from city residents, the Alachua County Commission and the Florida Department of Economics before it was approved.

Once passed by the city, the law can still be challenged by government bodies and residents before it is approved.

Adrian Hayes-Santos, District 4 city commissioner, said policies like the single-family zoning repeal will be better for the city in the long run.

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“This commission is focused on delivering progressive policies that will make our city better,” Hayes-Santos said. “It’s not just focused on what’s going to happen in the next year or two.”

After the election, the commissioners had different priorities to stop. For some, there are new policies that need to be written, especially for affordable housing.

District 3 city commissioner David Arreola said the inclusionary limit — which requires 10% of all new housing developments to apply for affordable units — is a focus of his office.

Without a strong policy approach, Arreola said the new commission will be reluctant to vote on inclusionary zoning because of public disapproval of previous housing plans.

“The next commission will be on board,” Arreola said. “They talk to death.”

Others are looking to renovate existing projects across the city.

Harvey Ward, District 2 city commissioner and mayoral candidate, said he hopes to advance projects that seek to replace energy-efficient residential air conditioners and other equipment for the owners of the village.

Funding for the replacements is already in place, Ward said, but the actual projects need to be addressed.

“We’re in a position where we can help people lower their utility bills by helping them get more energy-efficient appliances,” Ward said.

The mayor’s office, as well as the commissioner seats for Districts 2, 3 and 4, will be up for election. The District 4 seat is the only winner so far: Bryan Eastman, a Democratic National Training Committee intern.

District 2 candidates are → Santa Fe College Police Chief Ed Book and electrician James Ingle. District 3 candidates include former Alachua County Affordable Housing Committee Chair Dejeon Cain and UF College of Medicine resident program coordinator Casey Willits, and the mayoral race is between Ward and Bielarski.

Following the elections on November 8, the newly elected commissioners will begin their new duties.

City staff will provide information and resources for new officials about their offices, city issues and past decisions made by the commission.

Mayor Lauren Poe said the adjustment of incoming commissioners to their new positions is a top priority for city staff.

“We will do our best to ensure that the next commission is installed and ready to operate on their first day,” said Poe.

Contact Aidan at Follow him on Twitter @aidandisto.

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Aidan Bush

Aidan Bush is a second-year reporter and city and county commission reporter for The Alligator. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Citrus County Chronicle. When not writing, she enjoys making videos, watercraft and hanging out with her friends.


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