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Friday, April 12, 2024
<p>Richard Selwach, owner of Best Jewelry &amp; Loan Pawn Brokers, is one of eight people running for the At-Large 1 seat on the Gainesville City Commission.</p>

Richard Selwach, owner of Best Jewelry & Loan Pawn Brokers, is one of eight people running for the At-Large 1 seat on the Gainesville City Commission.

Deep in his cavern of pearls, acoustic guitars and rifles, Richard Selwach searches for new treasure.

Selwach, the 49-year-old owner of Best Jewelry & Loan Pawn Brokers, is one of eight people running for the At-Large 1 seat on the Gainesville City Commission. This will be the fifth time he's run for a seat on the commission.

The man who's been bartering and trading for 26 years hopes to spend three years negotiating with city politicians.

A woman brought a golden piece of jewelry to Selwach at a counter in his pawn shop. He looked at it for two seconds.

"That's plated brass," he said.

Another woman set a gleaming mandolin in front of him.

"How about $25?"

People walk in from the parking lot to a view of the pawn shop's outside painting, which is made to look like a galaxy of orange, yellow and blue planets - plus a spaceship.

They file in and out of the store as Selwach goes through their orders at an auctioneer's pace.

Scattered around his pawn shop are knickknacks or treasures, depending on who you talk to.

An Egyptian bust gazes over the line of customers. A chest-high stack of books sits next to a 5-foot-tall stack of drums.

Two Publix Grade A egg cartons hold a dozen golf balls each. A Dance Man slot machine rests on a counter top.

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Ten blue lawn signs that read "Selwach for City Commission" rest in a cracked plastic bin.

At the front of the store is Selwach himself, clad in a button-down white shirt and jeans with straight hair that falls three inches down his shoulders.

Born in Queens, N.Y., he moved to Miami when he was 3 and grew up near Little Havana.

When he was 17, he enrolled at UF as a business student and earned his associate's degree.

He left to open his pawn shop at 22. He was, and still is, 21 credits away from his bachelor's degree.

He said he tried to go back to college in 1992 to finish his degree, but an injury kept him away after a bus crashed into his car.

He said he is running for city commission again because people keep asking him to run.

"I'm a fighter," he said. "It's like a David-and- Goliath thing."

When he gets excited about what he's saying, he waves his hands around his body to emphasize his points.

He's basing his platform on getting rid of the city's contract with a biomass plant, keeping the commission fiscally responsible and cleaning up trash in the city.

"The best thing about Gainesville is our clean air, our clean water, our trees and the University of Florida," he said. "I'm an environmentalist. A real environmentalist ... Whatever we do to the web of life, we do to ourself."

He said he's for no new taxes and doesn't support soft closing of bars - a policy that would change closing hours from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. for city bars but would require bars to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m.

"Two o'clock is fine. You're here to go ahead and study," he said. "If you want to party like that, you can do it at home and buy your liquor early."

Richard Selwach, owner of Best Jewelry & Loan Pawn Brokers, is one of eight people running for the At-Large 1 seat on the Gainesville City Commission.

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