Editor’s note: This is the first part of a series that profiles candidates running for the 2013 District 4 City Commission race.
Alfredo Espinosa may not be the obvious person to run for City Commission, but that isn’t stopping him.
The 20-year-old UF building construction junior is running for the District 4 seat in the Gainesville City Commission.
“I wanted to do something different,” the Venezuelan native said.
District 4 covers the main UF campus and the area behind Midtown, which includes student housing.
Espinosa, who moved to the United States when he was 6 years old, said UF’s Student Body is underrepresented on the city level.
If elected, Espinosa said he wants to give district residents a voice in the commission.
“I’m here to listen and here to hear them out,” he said.
Espinosa said being a student wouldn’t affect the time he would dedicate to his job as a commissioner.
As a student, he said he would pick his own schedule and focus on City Commission during business hours and take classes during other times.
Espinosa said he wants to enact a soft closing of bars at 2 a.m. and cut utility rates. In the past year, rates went up 10 percent, which is a hardship to both students and businesses in the district, he said.
With an interest in building construction and project management, Espinosa said he wants to speak with builders and developers to ease traffic congestion in the district.
Espinosa said he also plans to tackle the issue of homelessness. He said the city should work with situational homeless families to ensure they don’t become permanently homeless.
“Our community deserves better,” he said.
Espinosa’s last goal is to create a pro-business-friendly environment in the district. He said Gainesville has a lot of innovation but no capital.
“We need to make Gainesville attractive to outsiders,” he said.
Espinosa has lived in Gainesville since starting at UF in 2010. He said his experience as a Preview staffer last summer will help him immensely if elected.
He said he worked about 70 hours a week in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment where he worked with people of different backgrounds.
“It was my motivation to help people and give back,” Espinosa said.
During that time, Espinosa met his campaign manager Ryan Garcia.
Garcia, a 22-year-old UF economics and history senior, said he was volunteering at convocation when he met Espinosa.
“He would bring a lot of energy, passion — and frankly, intelligence — to the commission,” Garcia said.
Garcia said Espinosa is relatable and personable to most people.
“He’s always willing to listen and hear everyone out,” he said.
Contact Samantha Shavell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UF junior Alfredo Espinosa, 20, is running for District 4 city commissioner. Espinosa is a strong advocate for a new policy that would allow bars to soft close at 2 a.m.