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Thursday, February 29, 2024
<p>Darlene Pifalo is running for a seat on the City Commission with a campaign that encourages business growth and empowers citizens.</p>

Darlene Pifalo is running for a seat on the City Commission with a campaign that encourages business growth and empowers citizens.

Darlene Pifalo wants to fight for the right to tailgate.

Pifalo, a 69-year-old at-large 1 candidate, is running for a seat on the City Commission.

A Gainesville resident since 1985, she said she wants to run on a campaign of common sense that encourages business growth and empowers citizens.

She said she will keep damaging regulations that restrict businesses, including those that confine gameday tailgating, out of the city.

"I think with the university's football, the city is making a lot of money," she said.

In August, City Commission staff came up with a proposal to limit tailgating in the single-family neighborhoods around UF's campus. It has since been sent back to a committee for evaluation.

During Saturday's game, she said, she was constantly on the phone with her dad celebrating and grieving.

And she said she knows there are thousands of people in Gainesville doing the same thing.

Born in Campton, N.J., she moved to Ft. Lauderdale in the late 1960s. She lived there for 10 years, then moved to Port Charlotte, Fla., for another 10 years.

She said she came to Gainesville for the college-town feel, and she wants to preserve that.

"The camaraderie of a college town - you can't beat [that]," Pifalo said.

Dressed in red pants, a white dress shirt and a red vest with an American flag pin, she also spoke of her commitment to real estate.

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Pifalo, a Republican, said it's a constitutional right to own property and said she has been upholding that right since she got her real estate license in 1973.

Her credentials include membership in the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors as the political involvement chair.

"My first love is real estate," she said. "My second love is animals."

At home, she cares for her eight cats: Lucky III, Sweetie, Babe, Pretty Boy, Precious, Ms. Magic, Sammy and Ms. Shadow.

Her business card pictures her holding a white cat, Mr. Lucky, and reads, "Your Purrrfect Realtor."

Pifalo said if she's elected, she will look closely at the biomass plan to see what it costs and how it will affect residents.

The city has been planning for years to build the wood-fueled power plant.

"I think all the citizens of Alachua County, not just Gainesville, are going to be affected by that," she said.

Also, she said she wants to encourage citizen involvement by giving people who show up at City Hall more than two minutes to speak.

She said she also wants to review the city landlord permits to see if there's any way to reduce the cost of the permits.

If she hears city staff's recommendations, she'll ask for input from the city residents, too.

She said she agrees with City Commissioner Todd Chase, a city businessman, on many issues and applauds how he asks tough questions of the commission.

She said she doesn't agree with some of the ways the city spends its money, such as a suggested $120-million streetcar system.

Although City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins said he's interested in looking into streetcars as a mass transit idea, the city has not officially decided to finance or build them.

Pifalo said members of the current commission may disagree with some of her views, but she thinks she'll be able to work with them to come to a compromise.

"I don't expect to change anybody's mind," she said, "but I think sometimes if you ask questions, then questions get answered."

Darlene Pifalo is running for a seat on the City Commission with a campaign that encourages business growth and empowers citizens.

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