Mayor Lauren Poe first ran for office in sixth grade for student government. He lost.
The next year he tried again – and lost again. He continued to run every year, through middle and high school.
He never lost hope, and senior year he was elected Gainesville High School senior class president.
“It goes back to public service,” Poe said. “I just always wanted to give what I could to serve the people around me.”
Now he’s running for his final term as mayor after serving the city for 10 years as a city commissioner. He was elected as commissioner in 2008 and mayor in 2016.
“I really just fell in love with the challenge of trying to create a better community,” Poe said.
Poe has also been a professor at Santa Fe College since 2002 who teaches economics and government.
One of his greatest accomplishments as mayor is launching the initiative to have 100 percent renewable energy for residents by 2045, he said.
His main drive is to close social, economic and racial equity gaps in the city, he said. He has worked with the commission to begin working on this mission and says he will continue if he’s re-elected.
“There’s no magic pixie dust that I’m going to sprinkle to make things happen,” Poe said.
He said the commission has made progress on this mission by advancing the affordable housing discussion by holding workshops and talks; looking at how to create high quality after-school care; and implementing transportation policies, such as the on-demand shuttle service for underserved areas in East Gainesville.
Poe received $17,225 in monetary donations since he announced his running in November, according to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office.
Thomas Hawkins, a former city commissioner, donated $150 to his campaign. He first met Poe in 2007 when they ran for commission at the same time. They served together and have stayed friends since, he said.
He described Poe in three ways: He has integrity, he’s a deep thinker and he’s compassionate.
“He really thinks that government can play a role in helping people and making their lives better,” Hawkins said.
Poe said if he doesn’t win, he will take a nap.
“It’s hard to imagine not being mayor,” Poe said. “But, as long as the voters believe in me and want me in this position, and as long we have a commission and staff that’s up for the task, then I’m going to put everything I have into it.”
Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe takes a selfie with city workers in front of Gainesville City Hall, located at 200 E. University Ave., on Thursday. Poe and city commissioners gave flowers to thank workers for helping after Hurricane Irma.