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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Endorsements, much like winter in Westeros, are coming. The Alligator will be gathering information provided from most candidates for most offices in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, we continue our rundown of every possible candidate Alachua County residents will have the opportunity to vote for or against. Today, we’ll be looking candidates for the Alachua County Soil and Water Conservation District and the state commissioner of agriculture. Please note these editorials are not an endorsement of any candidate.
Alachua County Soil and Water Conservation District
This five-member commission is in charge of keeping your soil clean and your water safe to drink. If there was ever a governmental body that most directly affects your ability to physically live, this is the one.

Seats 1, 3 and 5 are up for grabs Nov. 6, though only Seat 3 has any race to speak of. Kaithleen Hernandez and Chris Rose II are running to fill the impending vacancy. Hernandez made a name for herself in January 2017 when she and a handful of others were arrested while protesting the construction of the Sabal Trail pipeline.

Rose II is a Libertarian candidate and said he believes the government wastes too much money trying to fix environmental issues.
Commissioner of agriculture

Current Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam is set to relinquish his seat with the election of one of seven candidates. Four Republicans and three Democrats are vying to be his replacement.
The Republicans running against each other are Matt Caldwell, Denise Grimsley, Mike McCalister and Baxter Troutman.

Caldwell sports an endorsement from Sen. Marco Rubio and, after his tweets during the 2016 presidential race surfaced criticizing President Donald Trump, said the president “can count on my loyalty.”

Grimsley has been a Florida senator since 2012 and is the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She also said she is in favor of making it easier for ex-felons to have their voting rights restored after they’ve served their sentences.
McCalister is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served from 1971 to 2005. He unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and again for U.S. Senate in 2012.

Troutman is a former state representative from Winter Haven and a direct relative of Ben Hill Griffin Jr. He was also the vice chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection and the Environment & Natural Resources Council.
The Democrats running for the Aug. 28 primary win are Nicole “Nikki” Fried, Jeffrey Duane Porter and Roy David Walker.

Fried is a lobbyist and lawyer focusing on residents’ access to medical marijuana. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science, her master’s in political campaigning and her law degree all from UF. She was also Student Body president during her studies.

Porter is the mayor of Homestead and has worked in South Florida politics for 10 years. He is running on a platform of opposing Trump’s tariffs, which he said has hurt farmers and their businesses.

Walker is an environmental scientist and president of the South Florida Audubon Society. He said he would support legalizing recreational marijuana with conditional laws attached to treat it like tobacco products. He also said he is for enforcing existing gun laws more consistently.
We at The Alligator urge you to learn more about these and all other candidates for local, state and national office before heading to the polls this month and in November. Florida residents can register to vote at


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