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Saturday, July 31, 2021
<p>Donna Lutz, 66, stands outside her home Friday. She is running for the Gainesville City Commission at-large 1 seat.</p>

Donna Lutz, 66, stands outside her home Friday. She is running for the Gainesville City Commission at-large 1 seat.

Every day, Donna Lutz turns off University Avenue onto her tree-shaded street, serenaded by songbirds.

After moving to Gainesville in 1999, Lutz found her personal real estate paradise, but somewhere along the way, crowded streets complicated the beauty.

To fix it and other issues she sees in the city, Lutz, 66, is vying for the Gainesville City Commission at-large 1 seat. She is one of five candidates in the race so far.

Rather than running on a concept-heavy campaign, Lutz, a real estate agent, said her push for the commission seat will center on two concerns: inspiring voters to go to the ballot box and giving those who want their voices heard in politics a chance to speak.

"I wanted everyone to know - and that's my motto: ‘Your voice counts,'" she said.

Lutz said she's heard of times when people waited at City Commission meetings to speak, only to be sent home without a chance at the lectern.

More than anything, she said, she wants to run a campaign that can raise March's citywide election voter turnout of 14.87 percent by emphasizing teamwork between the city, its businesses and UF.

Lutz said she is interested in hearing from residents about specific issues that concern them.

If elected, she said, she would approve projects that benefit the whole city, rather than only one facet.

"Drawing the lines in the sand divides the community," she said. "That type of thinking decreases voter turnout ... We've got to be more than that. We've got to be citizens of the community."

One issue she said she's interested in tackling is transportation around the city, particularly on UF's campus.

Lutz said freshmen and sophomores weren't allowed to have cars when she attended UF.

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"If there aren't room for the cars, then no cars," she said.

She said she'd like to encourage businesses to set up near the airport to create more jobs in the city. She'd also like to strengthen the relationship between UF and the City of Gainesville.

Born in Boca Raton, Fla., Lutz graduated from UF in 1967 with a Spanish major. After that, she was a Pan American World Airways flight attendant for about 14 years and was elected to be a union chairwoman. In the mid-1980s, she moved to DeLand, Fla., and then Atlanta, where she worked as a high school Spanish teacher and tennis coach.

If elected to the commission, Lutz said, she'd use her experience as a union leader to negotiate and her knowledge as a high-school teacher to help everyone work together.

"Together everyone achieves more," she said. "No left. No right. Just forward."

Donna Lutz, 66, stands outside her home Friday. She is running for the Gainesville City Commission at-large 1 seat.

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