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Monday, September 27, 2021

Most of the former at-large 1 candidates for the Gainesville City Commission race have decided to support runoff candidate Nathan Skop in the runoff race — leaving little support for his opponent, former City Commissioner Lauren Poe.

Dejeon Cain, Richard Selwach, Darlene Pifalo and Mark Venzke — who were defeated in the Jan. 31 City Commission race — have given their support to Nathan Skop for the Feb. 28 runoff. James Ingle is undecided. Donna Lutz could not be reached for comment.

The former candidates ran on platforms of changing the current City Commission, instituting change in east Gainesville and creating change in the city's economic status.

Poe earned 4,411 votes and Skop earned 2,955 votes, coming in first and second, respectively, in the race. No candidate earned a majority of the votes, so the race will go to a runoff on Feb. 28.

Those who support Skop said they particularly like his stances on important city issues such as job creation.

"We need a new direction, and I believe it can begin with Skop," said Dejeon Cain, a former at-large 1 candidate. "He can bring experience."

Cain said Skop will bring insight gained from dealing with governmental agencies.

"We can't go in the same direction, like we would with Lauren Poe," he said. "The path is contaminated."

Richard Selwach, a former at-large 1 candidate, will be publicly supporting Skop around town and has already donated to his campaign.

Darlene Pifalo, a former at-large 1 candidate, said she wants more information on how each candidate plans to deal with the biomass plant project.

Skop has already publicly said the biomass situation needs to be fixed, she said, and Poe is proud of his stance on moving forward with the biomass plant.

Some former candidates are less sure of their choice.

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Mark Venzke, a former at-large 1 candidate, said he has some reasons to be uncomfortable with Skop but more reasons to wary of Poe.

He said he has asked several times for Skop and Poe to produce documentation proving their views and numbers, especially regarding a city biomass contract.

One former candidate hasn't decided whom to support.

James Ingle, a former at-large 1 candidate, said he will sit down with both runoff candidates in the next week.

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