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Saturday, September 25, 2021
<p>Lauren Poe speaks at Mother's Pub on Thursday about his candidacy for Gainesville's At-Large 1 seat in the 2012 election.</p>

Lauren Poe speaks at Mother's Pub on Thursday about his candidacy for Gainesville's At-Large 1 seat in the 2012 election.

Sipping on a glass of Guinness and looking up at President Obama's televised visage, Lauren Poe waited for his moment back in the spotlight.

A lot has changed for Poe since he lost his re-election for the Gainesville City Commission District 2 seat last spring.

He came to terms with the defeat. He took a real vacation. He became a father.

"Man can be as big as he wants," the president's televised voice boomed on a Mother's Pub & Grill projector screen.

Poe stood before a group of commissioners, young Democrats and other supporters Thursday night and announced it wasn't over yet.

He's running to be a commissioner again - this time for the At-Large 1 seat.

Since incumbent Jeanna Mastrodicasa can't run again because of term limits, he has his sights set on the citywide seat with Mastrodicasa's blessing.

The only hints of red in the room were raffle tickets handed out by the Alachua County Young Democrats and flowers on Commissioner Susan Bottcher's jacket.

Poe wore a blue- and white-checkered shirt and a dark blue Alachua County Resident cap.

Clutching a microphone, he began.

When he was a young adult, he got a postcard from the local young Democrat group.

"I was so thrilled that somebody thought I was young," Poe said.

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The crowd chuckled.

He told his history, asked for volunteers and summed up his platform - innovation, inclusion and invitation - in about 10 minutes. Maybe less.

He didn't breathe between the end of one sentence and the beginning of his next.

He said he wants to make sure anyone of any background can call the city home.

He spoke, without naming names, of candidates who want to keep the commission from moving into the future.

"We need leadership on the city commission that knows this is what this is all about," he said to the captive crowd.

Then he spoke of his experience.

"You will see me work with the entire commission," Poe said in his speech. "You know that about me."

Because his campaign officially began Wednesday, he could use volunteers, he hinted at the eager crowd of young political enthusiasts.

It won't be easy to get back to City Hall, he admitted.

Last election, he went door to door to secure 2,045 votes in the run-off.

He'll have to do that again, but he'll have significantly more doors to knock on.

He'll have to be away from his 5-week-old daughter, Elizabeth Catherine. It'll be tiring to campaign while teaching at Santa Fe College, he said.

And if he wins, he'll have to work with Todd Chase, who beat out Poe earlier this year in a run-off to win the District 2 seat by 418 votes.

But Poe said he has an advantage: He's done this before.

Square one feels like a rare opportunity. Now, he said, he can focus on problems that affect the whole city, rather than one district.

He wants to fix up dilapidated parts of town, like the 13th Street corridor. He wants to protect the gains Gainesville has made, like the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency.

"I think that this is a really good time to consolidate a lot of that energy," he said in an interview.

The city election will be in 2012. An exact date will be set by October.

Other candidates who have jumped into the At-Large 1 race are James Ingle, a strong supporter of working-class issues and an electrician; Donna Lutz, a UF alumna and real estate agent; and Darlene Pifalo, another real estate agent who has been a Gainesville resident since 1985.

There will also be a race to elect a District 1 commissioner. The incumbent, Scherwin Henry, is not running because of term limits.

Lauren Poe speaks at Mother's Pub on Thursday about his candidacy for Gainesville's At-Large 1 seat in the 2012 election.

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