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Thursday, May 23, 2024

It’s the fight of the century: Gainesville city elections, in which residents will vote for candidates for mayor and District 4 city commissioner.

In the mayoral race, though Donald Shepherd Sr. is still running, most eyes are on either former City Commissioner Lauren Poe or current Mayor Ed Braddy. It’s Poe vs. Braddy, old vs. new, the Poe boys vs. the Braddy bunch. In the city commissioner race, it’s Adrian Hayes-Santos — handsome UF alumnus and youth sports coach and counselor — against Jim Konish — attorney, personally financed and outspoken resident.

Kidding aside, we at the Alligator would like to put forth our official endorsements. We endorse Lauren Poe for mayor and Adrian Hayes-Santos for city commissioner.

While Braddy has undeniably made considerable accomplishments in his three years as mayor — such as our nation’s first-ever Uber program for seniors — his affiliations with former police officer and Gator Lodge president Jeffrey McAdams, who stole $56,000 of the police union’s funds to spend on meals, hotel visits and strip club attendances, is a serious cause of concern for us. Braddy told our reporters such affiliations were just “a couple of dumb things I did three years ago,” but we feel Braddy owes it to the Gainesville community to substantially justify why we should re-elect him in spite of his record.

Whereas Braddy’s platform largely focuses on his previous term’s successes, Poe’s platform addresses issues affecting all Gainesville residents — rich, poor, young and old alike. Both candidates pledge for lower GRU rates, but we feel Poe will take the more reasoned approach. We also heed an editorial by the Ocala Star-Banner, which endorses Poe for mayor and highlights Braddy’s propensity to inaccurately portray his role in lowering GRU rates to the benefit of all residents.

As for the city commissioner race, we question Konish’s candidacy for two main reasons. One, he claims to have entered the race only to deny Hayes-Santos an unopposed victory, and two, a number of residents have voiced concern over Konish’s shady business practices and organized a boycott via Craigslist against his candidacy. We do, however, applaud Konish’s energy as a public commentator at City Commission meetings. As for Hayes-Santos, aside from the many reasons to support him based on his platform, his support base is impressive enough, with endorsements ranging from the Human Rights Council of North Central Florida to Gainesville Professional Firefighters.

At the end of the day, no mayor or city commissioner alone can magically fix all of Gainesville’s problems. To elect a candidate based on promises of immediate restructuring alone is naive, which is why the Gainesville community needs to elect officials who have residents’ best interests in mind, sound judgment at heart and fair ideas of progress.

We at the Alligator feel Poe and Hayes-Santos best embody the leadership our city needs and can better facilitate a conducive, progressive environment for all residents alike. 

So we encourage you to vote for these two before polls close at 7 p.m. Even if you’re vehemently opposed to these candidates, still get out and vote. More than anything, we as a community need a strong voter turnout. Have your voice heard, for you’d be surprised how many don’t share this same privilege.

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