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Saturday, June 03, 2023
<p>James Ingle, a City Commission candidate for the at-large 1 seat, speaks to student activists at a protest on campus Friday.</p>

James Ingle, a City Commission candidate for the at-large 1 seat, speaks to student activists at a protest on campus Friday.

Standing before a crowd of about 30 student activists Friday, James Ingle encouraged his younger counterparts to keep up the fight.

For Ingle, a City Commission at-large 1 candidate, the upcoming months will be filled with speeches.

There will be time for platforms and party disagreements. Friday was a day for protesting.

"Prepare yourself for a long fight," Ingle said through a megaphone to Students for a Democratic Society members protesting tuition hikes. "You can do great things. We can do great things. We can only do them by sticking together."

Ingle's pursuit to join the commission is about a year in the making.

His first push for a city seat came this spring, when he garnered 553 votes in the District 2 race. He came in last out of four candidates. Todd Chase, a Gainesville businessman and political newcomer, won the seat.

Chrisley Carpio, a 19-year-old English sophomore and a member of Students for a Democratic Society, told the group Ingle is "a commendable ally to students on campus."

Ingle, 34, is an electrician and vice president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. For him, it all comes back to workers' rights.

If elected, Ingle wants to encourage job growth in Gainesville and make a bill of rights for apartment renters that ensures fair treatment.

Last election cycle, Ingle said he'd push to make sure the city hired Gainesville workers for city-funded projects.

He said jobs are the crux of the citywide unemployment problem.

"The sacrifices are being asked from the people who can least afford it," he said.

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During the last election, Ingle was engaged, but wedding planning came second to talking with voters.

"I am engaged to the most patient woman in the world," he said in the spring of Trisha Ingle, now his wife and campaign manager.

She stood next to him on Friday with a sign that read "Eating ramen. You can't afford tuition and real food" while they watched student activist leader Dave Schneider lead a chanting procession into Tigert Hall.

Along the way, Schneider threw a $35,000 price tag over the hands of the dancing statue on the Plaza of the Americas - statues the protesters called symbols of aristocracy. Students chanted, "Chop from the top!"

Soon after, they marched into Tigert Hall and up to UF President Bernie Machen's office, where they chanted, "We want Bernie," and waited outside for a meeting, which was postponed until a later date.

The UF administration will never admit it, Ingle said to the activists, but students' voices are a powerful tool for change.

"If it wasn't for actions like this, you would all be paying block tuition right now," he said, referring to the recent removal of block tuition from consideration, which he and other activists attribute to months of protesting earlier this year.

The same holds true for citywide issues, he said. The voice of the people is a powerful weapon.

But he said he knows it won't be an easy battle.

He encouraged the student activists not to give up, even though similar problems may come up year after year.

"Ain't no power like the power of the people," supporters chanted on their way to Machen's office, "‘cause the power of the people don't stop!"

Other candidates who have jumped into the at-large 1 race are Lauren Poe, a former District 2 City Commissioner; Donna Lutz, a UF alumna and real estate agent; Darlene Pifalo, another real estate agent who has been a Gainesville resident since 1985; and Dejeon Cain, a police service technician with the University Police.

James Ingle, a City Commission candidate for the at-large 1 seat, speaks to student activists at a protest on campus Friday.

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