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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Editor’s note: This is part of a series that profiles candidates running for local offices.

Charles “Chuck” Chestnut was born and raised in Alachua County and doesn’t plan on leaving.

The owner of Chestnut Funeral Home, he said he has made his voice heard as a Gainesville city commissioner and as a state representative.

Chestnut, 50, is running for the Alachua County Commission, saying his experience at both the local and state levels makes him an ideal candidate.

“Job creation, a responsible budget, protecting our environment and standing up for our most vulnerable citizens are my priorities,” Chestnut said on his website.

He said he tried to champion these causes in the state legislature but said he found a Republican-controlled House unwilling to reach across the aisle.

He voted against every state budget from 2008 until he left office earlier this year. Chestnut said he couldn’t support a budget that slashed funding for education and programs for the needy.

He said he would also like to streamline the county’s permitting process for small businesses and compare its business fees to the rest of the state to come up with a more accurate standard.

He said he would also make extra efforts to keep businesses associated with Innovation Gainesville in Alachua County by offering them reduced fees and other incentives.

Another way he said he plans to spur job creation is by preserving natural attractions to stimulate ecotourism jobs.

“It is simply not true that we have choose between the environment and the economy,” Chestnut wrote in a blog.

He said as a state representative, he saw that state lawmakers were trying to cut funding for environmental preservation programs. Chestnut said that’s why the county must work to save environmentally focused programs like Alachua County Forever.

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But Chestnut said none of these goals are attainable until the county gets its finances in order.

He said he hopes to achieve this by eliminating redundancies in the county’s budget, making plain-language summaries of initiatives and cutting auxiliary spending.

“As money from Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., becomes more scarce, we must build a more efficient, more effective government,” Chestnut wrote.

Contact Shelby Webb at swebb@alligator.org.

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