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Monday, December 04, 2023

'It always feels best to win': Mayor Lauren Poe dominates in race

<p dir="ltr"><span>Lauren Poe speaks to a crowd of reporters and about 100 supporters March 20, 2019 at the Public and General restaurant after elections. Poe beat three opponents to win his second term as mayor of Gainesville.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

Lauren Poe speaks to a crowd of reporters and about 100 supporters March 20, 2019 at the Public and General restaurant after elections. Poe beat three opponents to win his second term as mayor of Gainesville.


Gainesville knew who was going to win the election.

With three mayoral opponents and a commissioner opponent who had never been elected to a government office, the chances of incumbent candidates Lauren Poe and Adrian Hayes-Santos losing was slim.

The landslide wins for mayor and District 4 City Commissioner mean nothing will change in local government leadership.

Poe beat Jenn Powell, Jennifer Reid and Marlon Bruce for Gainesville Mayor by 61.82 percent of the vote, according to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office.

Incumbent Hayes-Santos beat Robert Mounts by 73.68 percent of the votes for the District 4 City Commission seat, according to the elections office. Along with the official positions, the creation of the charter review commission passed with 62.96 percent. The charter review will consist of 11 registered voters elected by the city commission. It will review the city charter and propose amendments every decade.

Of the 89,777 active registered voters, the regular election saw a 12.95 percent voter turnout, which includes the 2,869 people who voted early at polls.

This was a decrease in voter turnout from last year’s local election, which decided the city commission At-large 1 and District 1 seats and had a 13.53 percent turnout. The turnout this year was larger than 2017’s election, which decided the commission At-large 2, District 2 and District 3 seats. Voter turnout then was 11.88 percent.

This wasn’t Poe’s first victory – but it will be his second and final term on the city commission as mayor.

He watched the election in a joint watch party with Hayes-Santos and about 100 supporters, family, friends and city officials at Public and General, at 1000 NE 16th Ave.


Adrian Hayes-Santos shakes City Commissioner David Arreola’s hand Tuesday during Hayes-Santos and Lauren Poe’s watch party at the Public and General restaurant. Hayes-Santos beat Robert Mounts to become Gainesville city commissioner for District 4.


After seeing the results, Hayes-Santos and Poe embraced to celebrate their dual victory. Hayes-Santos gave his speech first and then Poe stood to give his final victory speech.

“I’ve won, and I’ve lost. It always feels best to win,” Poe said. “I’ve been given a chance that not many other people get.”

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Emily Monda-Poe, his wife, has been with him through all his campaigns.

“I’m over the moon,” Monda-Poe said. “We want to make Gainesville accessible to everyone. That’s a passion for both of us.”

Poe said because this is his last term on the commission, he is more driven to make progress in closing equity gaps and making Gainesville more affordable, which he’s been working toward since he joined the commission 10 years ago.

Alycin Hayes, Hayes-Santos’ mother, said she wasn’t worried about the election because she was confident in her son’s hard work.

“Ever since he was little, he was interested in local politics,” Hayes said. “I’m proud of him because that’s what he wants. He wants to make Gainesville a better place.”

Hayes-Santos said that he plans to continue his work that he began on the commission, such as moving toward expanding high-speed affordable internet.

Powell spent election night at her favorite restaurant, Chopstix Cafe, at 3500 SW 13th St.

When Powell saw the results, she snuck away from her watch party of about 20 people to make a concession call to Poe.

Powell only received 18.47 percent of the vote, which is 2,138 votes, according to the elections office. This is her second loss in Gainesville local elections. In 2017, she ran against Helen Warren for the commission At-large 1 seat.

“I’m really proud of all the issues we brought to the table,” she said. “We’re not stopping any time soon.”

Powell election

Jenn Powell, a candidate in the Gainesville mayoral race, hugs Miguel Valdez Tuesday at Chopstix Cafe after conceding the race to Mayor Lauren Poe. “We knew it was all going to depend on voter turnout,” she said. “Hopefully we educated people, and hopefully we have better voter turnout.” Powell lost to Poe 2,138 votes to 7,158.


Jason King, Powell’s campaign manager, was saddened at the result but said he knew they ran a good campaign.

“We knocked on doors, we found out the main issues were affordable housing and Gainesville Regional Utility rates, and we had a strong platform,” he said. “It just came down to low voter turnout.”

Powell said she will make sure Poe sticks to his campaign promises. She is not sure if she will run again.

“We’re doing a call to action to make sure everyone goes to the Thursday meeting and doesn’t let them forget about what’s going on and what needs to be fixed in this city,” Powell said.

Jennifer Reid was surrounded by family, friends, supporters and comfort food at Adam’s Rib Co. Tuesday when the election results were announced.

Reid and her family huddled around their cellphones as the results rolled in. All of her supporters were quiet in anticipation.

She wasn’t fazed by the loss. She took a breath and turned to begin thanking her supporters one last time.

Reid earned 1,804 votes, which was 15.58 percent of the vote, putting her in third place, according to the elections office.

The local restaurant was busy with more than 20 supporters spread out over five tables, including Reid’s husband, father and sister.

Reid’s sister, Heather Alberico, a 28-year-old physical therapist, said Poe’s win was expected.

“I’m really proud of how far she was able to get,” Alberico said. “But, don’t forget about Jennifer Reid. She’ll be back.”

Reid isn’t sure if she will pursue local politics, but she said she is not done fighting for a safe and affordable community.

Marlon Bruce came last in the mayoral race, earning 478 votes.

Bruce spent the night following the election with a group of his campaign staff.

“The people of Gainesville are in need of more,” Bruce said.

When Mounts saw he lost to Hayes-Santos for the District 4 City Commission seat, the first thing he said was, “Oh, s---.”

On the second floor of The Swamp Restaurant, at 1642 W. University Ave., Mounts watched the election results on a TV screen above the food bar with burgers and wings.

Mounts received 26.32 percent of the vote, which is 572 votes, according to the elections office.

“It’s disappointing, no doubt about it,” Mounts said. “We walked the ground. I was at everybody’s doorway.”

Eunsook Park, Mounts’ wife, sat silently among the group of about 22 people watching the results.

“Bob will still be Bob,” Park said. “He’s very capable, and he’s got a lot to contribute to the community. I’m sorry that he didn’t win.”

Although Mounts did not win, he will stay on the board of his neighborhood association and remain as the chair of the College Park/University Heights Redevelopment advisory board.

He said he is not planning on running in any more local races.

“We still have to work together with the city commission to make Gainesville a better place,” he said.

Lauren Poe
Jenn Powell
Jennifer Reid
Marlon Bruce
District 4 City Commissioner
Adrian Hayes-Santos
Robert Mounts
Charter Review
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