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Thursday, February 02, 2023

Mayoral, city commission candidates set for elections

With the conclusion of the five-day qualifying period Friday, the race for the March city elections is on.

As of Sunday night there were six mayoral candidates as well as three District 4 City Commission candidates, according to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office.

In the mayoral race, former Gainesville-Alachua County Regional Airport Authority board member Peter Johnson, Donald Shepherd Sr., Mark Venzke and former city commissioners Ed Braddy and Scherwin L. Henry are challenging incumbent Mayor Craig Lowe.

In the City Commission race, UF building construction junior Alfredo Espinosa, former City Commissioner W.E. “Mac” McEachern and incumbent Commissioner Randy Wells are vying for the District 4 seat.

There had been some concern about McEachern’s eligibility to run because his address no longer falls within District 4 boundaries after redistricting in December. However, according to the Supervisor of Elections Office, he’s still considered qualified to run.

“Qualifying was a bit unusual because of the last-minute changes they made in [re-]districting,” he said. “The qualifying process was more of a distraction. I don’t think it’ll have any effect on the campaign now.”

In the mayoral race, Henry said he looked forward to this year’s elections.

“For me, the race hinges on who can best lead,” he said.

Johnson said he wanted to run for mayor to help ease partisanship in Gainesville.

“I thought I could bring people of different views together,” he said.

Braddy said his primary concern is the cost of living in Gainesville.

“City Hall has turned a deaf ear to [citizens’] concerns about affordability,” he said.

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Four candidate forums are scheduled during the campaign. The first, hosted by the African American Accountability Alliance, will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Alachua County Health Department, located at 224 SE 24th St.

Elections will be held March 19.

All registered voters living in Gainesville can vote in the mayoral race, while only District 4 residents can vote in the District 4 race.

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