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Wednesday, April 14, 2021
<p>City Commission candidate Harold Saive works on a song for Occupy Gainesville in his study. The song, written by Duane Schwingel, another Occupy Gainesville protester, debuted on Saive's YouTube channel GainesvilleNews. "It's in the embryonic stages right now," Saive said.</p>

City Commission candidate Harold Saive works on a song for Occupy Gainesville in his study. The song, written by Duane Schwingel, another Occupy Gainesville protester, debuted on Saive's YouTube channel GainesvilleNews. "It's in the embryonic stages right now," Saive said.

Harold Saive sat in his War Room and said he wants to shake up the City Commission.

An American flag flies at full staff in the front yard. A black trashcan with a "9-11 was an inside job" bumper sticker on it stands next to his gravel driveway. A lawn sign in his yard reads, "Support the troops. Bring them home."

As a veteran, 67-year-old Saive said he wants to protect the liberties at home that U.S. soldiers fought for abroad.

His wood-paneled War Room is furnished with a rectangular meeting table covered with books such as "Birds of Florida" and "The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve."

There, he prepares to run for the At-Large 1 seat of the Gainesville City Commission. He is one of six candidates.

He said a democratic process is essential to a democratic society, and he said he believes Gainesville's government has been muddled by too many voices and too little community outreach.

"I've earned the right to fight [for our democratic process]," Saive said.

If elected, he wants to cut the size of the commission from seven members to five members. He said he'd do that by having a referendum vote so the voters can decide which seats, if any, they'd like to see eliminated. If he had to choose, he said he'd pick one At-Large seat - his own, if necessary - to get cut.

He said he'd hold monthly town hall meetings, which he calls "power meetings," where residents can talk for as long as they'd like about the issues in their community.

He said he'd like to look into consolidating the Gainesville City Commission and the Alachua County Commission. He pointed to Miami-Dade County and Duval County as examples. Those counties use consolidated governments to make decisions for Jacksonville and Miami.

He said he disagrees with the biomass plan and how the city has dealt with the Cabot Koppers Superfund site. He said he wants to use city lobbyists to persuade Congress to stop using local money to fund the military.

"Everybody's hiding behind their budget for the inaction they perform," Saive said.

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Born in St. Petersburg, he moved to Miami when he was 5.

His family relocated to New York when he was 10 because his dad got a job as a flight dispatcher at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He attended Public School 54 in Queens before his family moved back to Miami two years later.

He moved back to Queens when he was in his late teens to attend a technical school.

It was the early 1960s, and the Vietnam War was heating up.

Rather than wait to get drafted, he said, he earned A's and enlisted in the Air Force. His high grades allowed him to choose how he wanted to serve in the Air Force.

He chose the medical field.

From 1962 to 1966, he said, he served in New Mexico and the Sondrestrom Air Base in Greenland as an operating room technician.

Later, he used his knowledge of electronics and medicine to work at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. He went on to work at the Miami Heart Institute as an imaging specialist. It was his job to develop the film from MRIs and other tests.

He's since retired, run for a commission seat twice and volunteered at the National Hurricane Center as a ham radio operator.

He ran for a seat on the Gainesville City Commission in 2002 and 2004.

He said he lost the first race because of inexperience, and he used the second race to get attention for a wetlands issue he was working on.

This race will be different, he said, because he knows what he's doing and is serious about winning.

"This is going to be a 24/7, 24/7 obligation," Saive said.

He went before the commission at the Oct. 6 meeting and announced his candidacy.

He stood before the seven commissioners and said he expected to be sitting among them soon.

"I'm here to occupy the Gainesville City Commission," he said.

City Commission candidate Harold Saive works on a song for Occupy Gainesville in his study. The song, written by Duane Schwingel, another Occupy Gainesville protester, debuted on Saive's YouTube channel GainesvilleNews. "It's in the embryonic stages right now," Saive said.

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