David Arreola wants to represent immigrants in Gainesville.
The 26-year-old first-generation Mexican-American is running for District 3’s seat because he wants to represent the immigrant community and be a voice for students and residents under 30. His district, which encompasses Butler Plaza and residential areas along Archer Road, is mainly populated by immigrants and students, he said.
As a native of Gainesville, he graduated from F.W. Buchholz High School before he majored in political science at Flagler College. He received a master’s at Saint Leo University.
“Being a first-generation American, especially growing up in Alachua County, it really insulates you from local politics,” he said.
Arreola said Gainesville was a welcoming community when his parents emigrated to the city in the ‘80s. His father is now a radiologist at UF Health Shands Hospital and his mother is a professor at Santa Fe College.
“At first they didn’t speak the language too well, but Gainesville was such a welcoming place,” Arreola said.
He said he feels the city commission lacks representation of other minorities. He said the governing bodies have inclusivity problems.
“This is a major, major issue,” he said. “I think my candidacy is very timely.”
Although he has publicly supported the efforts to make Gainesville a welcoming city, he said more needs to be done to ease concerns of the immigrant community.
“If what it takes is making a political statement about becoming a sanctuary city, then so be it,” he said.
With negative statements from President Donald Trump and policies toward immigrants, he said, the community is concerned.
“A city cannot live this way with a population living in fear,” he said.
Ken Cornell, an Alachua County commissioner, said Arreola would represent younger residents and immigrants. On issues like corporate welfare and the biomass contract, he agreed with Arreola.
“He is thoughtful, he is thorough, he spends the time that is necessary to research the issues,” Cornell said. “He really listens to what the people are saying.”
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An elderly man inspired Craig Carter’s bid for re-election.
He ran into the man while walking through the Porters neighborhood near Depot Avenue last year. The man, who Carter declined to name for privacy reasons, said he was surprised a city commissioner was willing to walk with him on the way back to his house.
“That was very sad to me because that’s exactly what a city commissioner is supposed to do,” Carter said.
The 56-year-old commercial realtor, who was elected to District 3 in 2014, said if he’s re-elected in today’s city commission election, he wants to lower utility bills, make sure his district is well-represented in commission and make Gainesville friendly for businesses. Carter is running against David Arreola for the seat, which covers 34th Street and Interstate 75.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve done, and I’ve always told the truth,” Carter said. “Whether I win or lose, I’m not going to change who I am.”
In the past, Carter has owned several companies, including a golf cart business, a medical supply company and a construction business that did work for people with disabilities. This work in business, he said, showed him how to work with all different types of people.
“I want diversity in thinking on the city commission,” Carter said. “If all seven of us thought alike, it’d be a disaster.”
He said he wants to continue listening to and helping Gainesville’s people. He considers himself one of the most accessible commissioners, giving out his personal cellphone number on his official business card.
Mason Alley, Carter’s former campaign manager in 2014, said Carter was always open to hearing new ideas. He said he may have disagreed with Carter about some issues, like his endorsement of the Wild Spaces and Public Places tax, but that’s a good thing — Mason said Carter doesn’t make ideologically driven decisions.
“What is interesting about Craig is the fact that he really, I think, represents in a lot of ways, what Gainesville should be striving for,” Alley said. “And I think we need more folks that are like that.”
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Left: David Arreola Right: Craig Carter