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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Editor's Note: Christopher Salazar could not be reached for a photograph.

Christopher Salazar first became interested in politics as a child watching the news.

Now, Salazar, 21, is hoping to make news by running for the Gainesville City Commission District 3 seat.

"The biggest thing I'm worried about is our infrastructure and energy need," he said.

Salazar would like to build a new power plant and install solar panels on all city buildings.

If funds could be made available, he wants to run Regional Transit System and school buses on biodiesel - a renewable, clean-burning fuel.

"With the right equipment we could theoretically gather waste cooking oil from our local restaurants and fast food places," he said, to create the fuel for as little as 70 cents a gallon.

If possible, all city vehicles should be replaced with hybrids, too, he said.

As far as infrastructure, Salazar is concerned with congestion on the roads.

He said he would continue to work on synchronizing traffic lights but would also consider changing speed limits and creating more connecting streets to relieve busy areas like Newberry Road and Archer Road.

Salazar is also concerned with the communication between different homeless ministries.

He would like them to refer homeless people to the appropriate organization that would best suit their individual needs.

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"Everyone's working on their own piece of the puzzle, but that's a problem," he said. "It's just the piece. It's not the whole picture."

Salazar, who studied general science and engineering before he went on leave from SFCC, also wants to work on problems that are important to students, such as binge drinking.

If it were up to him, clubs and bars would still stay open until 2 a.m. but would stop serving alcohol at midnight or 1 a.m.

"If you keep playing the music, people will stay," he said. "If you just close down at 2 a.m. and turn everyone out, everyone's out there staggering and doing whatever."

He also plans to mandate minimum numbers of visitor parking spots in apartment complexes.

A Gainesville resident all his life, Salazar first experienced the local political system at a commission meeting last year when he spoke out against the closing of Tent City, a homeless camping area near South Main Street.

"I've always been political," he said. "Ever since I was a young child, I followed politics."

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