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Friday, June 21, 2024

SFCC professor runs for city seat

English professors have gone on to write best-selling novels. Biology professors have cured diseases. But can someone who teaches about government actually run one?

City Commission District 2 candidate Lauren Poe thinks so.

Poe, 37, has lived in Gainesville for 25 years and earned UF master's degree in education from UF a decade ago. He now works as a professor at SFCC.

Poe teaches economics and government to about 100 students at SFCC's dual enrollment program, which allows high school students to enroll in college-level classes.

He encourages his students to stay civically involved by attending speeches and following local politics, he said.

Some of his students have become big supporters - at a commission candidate forum last week, several of his students cheered his name as he left the stage.

Poe said one of his biggest goals is to build up downtown Gainesville by inviting emerging businesses, such as biotechnology and clean energy research firms to the area.

Not only would the influx of businesses increase revenue in what he called the city's urban core, it would also bring in more jobs and establish Gainesville as a high-tech research center, he said.

Poe was quick to add, however, that his plan of welcoming business should not be interpreted as giving tax incentives indiscriminately to big corporations, as evidenced by the yet-to-be-built University Corners.

Besides becoming a thorn in the side of local developers and community redevelopment officials, the issue has also polarized some residents who believe the incentive program is nothing more than a bureaucratic corporate handout.

Poe said he believes the rebates can work only if they are used to encourage companies to develop local infrastructure that the city would have paid for anyway.

Poe also said he has big hopes for improved relations between UF, SFCC and the city. An SFCC bus service with more routes and a closer connection between UF's research labs and technology marketing firms could only help Gainesville's havens of higher education, he said.

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"Gainesville could be perfect for it," he said. "We just need to create those right conditions and convince companies that this is the best place to be."

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