On Tuesday, UF alumna Kim Barton was sworn in as Alachua County’s Supervisor of Elections, becoming the first African-American to hold the position.
Barton, 54, has worked as the outreach director for the Supervisor of Elections Office for the past 23 years and now strives to increase voter participation, advance voter accessibility and expand voter education.
In the August election, she won with 67.62 percent of the vote.
“It was a momentous occasion — I was just overwhelmed with joy and excitement,” Barton said about taking on her new role. “I am so looking forward to serving the voters and citizens of Alachua County.”
On Tuesday night, Gainesville Black Professionals, a nonprofit, recognized Barton as its first-ever professional of the month at a celebration and professional mixer.
About 100 people attended the event, which was held at The Twisted Peacock restaurant, located at 3610 SW 13th St.
“It was such an honor,” Barton said. “For them to do this for me, it was really special.”
Virginia Grant, the executive director of Gainesville Black Professionals, said the organization plans to continue to recognize black professionals on a monthly basis.
“It’s an opportunity for us to recognize professionals that are doing great things in the community, in their personal lives and in their careers,” Grant said.
The organization decided to honor Barton after the results came in for the historic election.
Grant said there is still something of a divide between black professionals and the community in terms of linking opportunities and resources.
The organization’s goal is to address the divide by growing communication, collaboration and networking between black professionals, both personally and professionally.
“I’m excited for her to have been chosen to lead us in this role, and I think she’s going to do an exceptional job,” Grant said.
Barton’s inspiration for exercising the right to vote was something she was taught from a young age.
Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, Barton said her parents were passionate about equal access to voting — and even volunteered to drive others to polling locations.
“My parents instilled in my brother and I the importance of your voice and your vote,” she said. “Whenever they would go vote, they would take us with them.”
Barton left Tennessee to study advertising and play on the women’s basketball team at UF, graduating in 1985. She said being a Gator taught her to work hard and pursue what she loves to do.
“My education at UF has afforded me the opportunity to be where I am,” she said.