A few dozen Gainesville residents attended District 4 Commission Candidate Adrian Hayes-Santos’ first fundraiser of 2016 at his friend’s house Tuesday night.

The 30-year-old entrepreneur promises to protect neighborhoods, promote the downtown economy, preserve the natural environment, expand affordable high-speed broadband, improve transportation, lower Gainesville Regional Utility rates, fight for income equality and support Grace Marketplace.

As the youngest candidate in the race, his youth offers an advantage: the ability to tackle issues and improve the city’s downtown economy and livelihood in potentially innovative ways.

Hayes-Santos faces landlord Jim Konish for the District 4 Commission. Randy Wells currently holds the position but is finishing his term length.

Hayes-Santos’ experience includes positions on the Gainesville City Beautification Board, Regional Transit System Board, the Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency Board and the Alachua County Business and Economic Growth Task Force.

“I’m passionate about our city,” he said during a speech. He primarily focused on expanding downtown.

“We need to make downtown the focal point of our city,” he said.

Hayes-Santos said the city needs to expand programs in the area, which could entice people to stay by creating opportunities for jobs and recreation.

His young age has made him successful with some UF students, who see him as a relatable candidate who cares about issues important to their lives.

“His plan has always been to reach out to as many students that are willing to listen and to kind of cast a wide net as far as diverse people participating within the campaign,” said David Arreola, Hayes-Santos’ campaign manager and a UF alumnus, at a candidate forum Monday night.

Arreola described Hayes-Santos as a public servant.

“He wants the message of a local candidate to actually address what matters to students and what could garner their interest a little bit,” Arreola said.

That means addressing issues like broadband and transportation, but also more complex issues that students might not know about — like GRU rates.

This is especially important for a city with low voter turnouts and students who are aren’t active in politics, Arreola said.

Financial records from October through December show Hayes-Santos raised about $10,300 in donations as of press time, which is more than Konish, who collected about $2,260.

His supporters include Alachua County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson; Gainesville City Commissioners Helen Warren and Harvey Budd; and former city commissioner Susan Bottcher.

Contact Hunter Williamson at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @hunterewilliam

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