Gigi Simmons has learned how to lead over the last 100 days.
“It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been great,” said Simmons, the Gainesville City Commissioner for District One.
Simmons held a “State of District One Address” Wednesday night at the Gainesville Police Department, at 545 NW 8th Avenue, to reflect on her first 100 days in office. This is the first time she’s done this and hopes to continue the discussion every 100 days. Simmons took the office in May after defeating the incumbent, former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston, in a runoff election. This is the first time the city has ever had two African American women on the commission.
In addition to her reflection speech to a crowd of over 100 people, Simmons hosted presentations from the Gainesville Police Department, Gainesville Fire Rescue and the Reichert House Youth Academy, an after school program for at-risk middle and high school aged boys.
Simmons talked about what she achieved for District One, like securing funding from the Gainesville Women’s Club to enhance the Northeast 31st Avenue Park, installing four way stop signs at Northeast 15th Street and 31st Avenue and putting a crosswalk on Eighth Avenue. She said she’s also working on implementing an afterschool program at the Porters Community Center, a neighborhood recreation center.
But Simmons said there’s a lot she still wants to accomplish, like addressing the challenge of affordable housing.
“It’s time to come together to say enough is enough,” Simmons said at the beginning of her speech. “It’s time for District One to have a seat at the table, in fact, it’s long overdue.”
Curtis Jefferson, a retired Gainesville resident, said he didn’t realize all the planning that was going on in District One until he came for the discussion.
“I think it’s good for people to have an opportunity to know what’s going on so you can ask the question: how can I get involved?” Jefferson said.
Valerie Freeman, the director of equity and outreach at the Alachua County School Board, said she thinks Simmons would start the work that’s needed for an underrepresented community such as District One. Her collaboration can get the other districts to work together too, she said.
“I was very encouraged by her ideas, her vision and most importantly, her sincerity,” Freeman said.