Editor’s note: This is part of a series that profiles candidates running for local offices.
When Dean Cheshire was a student senator at UF, he never thought he would actually run for political office.
He still didn’t think he would run after he earned his master’s of business administration and launched an educational software company.
The UF political science and MBA alumnus decided he wanted to run for the District 5 seat on the Alachua County Commission to bring different opinions to the dias.
After he moved back to his hometown, the Gainesville native was still wary of joining politics, until he began to attend city and county commission meetings.
“It was an organic moment when I realized how broken the county was,” said Cheshire, 30.
Cheshire said if elected, he would be able to bring a student’s perspective to the County Commission. One of his priorities would be to create more jobs locally for recent graduates.
He said he has seen firsthand how disproportionately affected young professionals are by the economic downturn.
While he was working toward his MBA in 2007, Cheshire said many local businesses either laid off workers or went bust leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.
“Twenty percent of my MBA class was fired,” Cheshire said. “Many of those people were local and there simply weren’t options to put them locally.”
But in the years after the crash, Cheshire said the county has created hurdles for businesses trying to grow roots in the area.
“Our community has made it very expensive and time consuming to start a business,” he said.
Cheshire said one of the biggest inconveniences businesses face in the county is the massive amount of paperwork known as the “comprehensive plan.” He said it includes fees, permits and county ordinances that make it difficult for businesses to establish themselves.
He said if he is elected Tuesday, he will work to streamline the process to open a business in the county. By reducing the number of fees and permits, Cheshire said he hopes to use his technological business experience to replicate the results of Innovation Square throughout Alachua County.
“When the only area of the job sector growing is local government, it’s undeniable we can do better,” he said.
Another area county and city commissioners would like to improve is the Regional Transit System — though they differ on how to go about an upgrade.
Some have backed the Bus Rapid Transit system, which would implement time-saving measures like bus lanes and bus priority at stoplights.
But Cheshire is firmly opposed to the plan and said it wouldn’t help students, though the Student Body would foot most of the bill. He said he’d rather bolster and support the existing bus system for students instead of implement a system he doesn’t think will work.
Contact Shelby Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean Cheshire graduated from UF with an undergraduate degree in political science and a master’s of business administration. He said he hopes to bring a fiscally responsible student voice to the commission.