Heavy rain didn’t stop candidates for City Commission from last-minute campaigning efforts to secure votes before Tuesday’s election.
Registered Gainesville voters in all 36 precincts will have an opportunity to cast their votes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and choose between incumbent Harvey Budd and challenger Gail Johnson for the At-Large 1 seat. District 1 residents in nine precincts in downtown and east Gainesville will also decide between incumbent Charles Goston and challengers Gigi Simmons and Tyra “Loudd” Edwards for the District 1 seat.
During early voting, 6,283 ballots were cast — 3,742 votes by mail and 2,540 at the polls, according to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections.
In the At-Large 1 race, Budd spent $36,746 on his campaign for re-election, just over $8,000 more than his opponent Johnson, according to a campaign financial report compiled by the Supervisor of Elections. Most of that money went toward fliers, robocalls, campaign management, yard signs and other advertising, he said.
Budd said he raised $30,000 from the public and contributed about $6,000 of his own money.
“You should be able to put your own money in it to be successful,” he said.
Budd spent the week before Election Day outside the Millhopper Branch Library helping current constituents with problems. His team made calls Monday night, he said.
His opponent, Johnson, spent the weekend making phone calls and knocking on more than 1,200 doors, she said.
“It’s that last-minute push before Election Day, so we’re going to be doing that all up until the polls close tomorrow,” she said.
Johnson spent $28,541 on her campaign, which included food for volunteers, campaign consultation and events, according to the finance report. She raised $33,799 for her campaign and $400 in non-monetary contributions.
“It takes a lot to run a campaign,” she said. “There’s printing costs, there’s the website, there’s really getting your message out to the voters in any way possible, and that takes many forms.”
For District 1, incumbent Charles Goston spent $7,701 on his campaign for items including signs, printing fees, robocalls and mail advertisements, he said.
“Finally the residents of District 1 have somebody they know won’t sell them out, and that’s me,” he said.
Gainesville resident Doug Bernal filed a complaint against Goston with the Florida Elections Commission, according to a Gainesville Sun article. The complaint argues Goston sold himself a campaign ad in his publication Black College Monthly for a reduced price, a violation of state law. It also argues that he violated a county ordinance by giving himself an non-monetary contribution with a value greater than $250.
Goston said he hasn’t violated any laws during his campaign, and his campaign treasurer would never allow a mistake like that.
“All they wanted to do was smear me,” he said. “I’m doing everything by the book.”
Simmons spent the most money on her campaign out of the District 1 candidates – $8,364. The funds were used for things like postcards, campaign consultation, T-shirts and signs, according to her finance report.
Simmons, along with Johnson, received a $100 contribution from County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson. Simmons said she didn’t know he planned on contributing to her campaign.
“I have all kinds of people that like my message,” she said.
Tyra “Loudd” Edwards’ campaign has spent $1,300 on advertising, including yard signs, videography and buttons, according to her finance report.
Edwards spent the final days before the election visiting the homes of District 1 residents, said campaign manager Jessica Martini. Despite raising the least amount of money out of all the candidates, Martini believes it was the word-of-mouth among the community that helped her campaign grow.
“We know that we’re probably the underdogs, but I think that her message has really resonated with people,” Martini said.