Mary Alford is an environmental engineer and Santa Fe College and UF graduate who owns The Sustainable Design Group, an architecture and engineering consulting firm. Alford’s projects aim to reduce carbon footprints.
Aside from her professional experience, Alford was impacted by the death of her 24-year-old son, Joseph Peter Williamson, who didn’t go to the emergency room when he felt sick because he didn’t have valid insurance. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 and died a year later.
After her son’s death, Alford became interested in politics, joining Alachua County’s Environmental Protection Board in 2013. In the past decade, she served on several local committees, including the Gainesville Utility Advisory Board and Alachua County Code Enforcement Board.
“I don’t want that to happen to any other person,” she said. “Especially now with COVID-19 with people that don’t have access to medical care.”
If elected, Alford said she would focus on sustainability, which she defines as a balance among the environment, the economy and equity.
She said the county needs to work on its current infrastructure and to prepare for uncertainties, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
“You can build the greenest building in the world, but if you can’t afford it, it doesn’t get built,” she said. “If everybody can’t have access to the things that are good and healthy, then that’s not equitable.”
Alford also said she would continue to enforce Alachua County’s face mask order and occupancy limits.
While the county financially assisted residents through the CARES Act grant, Alford said she would also increase food distribution to residents struggling with food insecurity. This process would begin with a coordinator who would identify areas where food isn’t as available, she said.
She said she fully supports the Black Lives Matter movement but wouldn’t push to defund the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. Instead, she would advocate for the department to hire social workers and mental health and substance abuse counselors to handle non-violent emergency situations.
She would also advocate to move toward a bail-free system. The bail system keeps detainees in jail until the trial. However, she said courts can instead use ankle bracelets or call the accused before their trial.
Raemi Eagle-Glenn is an attorney and owner of Everything Mac, a computer repair store in Gainesville. Eagle-Glenn graduated from UF’s Levin College of Law in 2011, specializing in environmental law.
She now works on civil law cases, which usually deal with businesses, contracts and real estate, she said. She also prepared memorandums, or documents recording legal details, when former U.S. President Barack Obama pardoned drug trafficking offenders.
Eagle-Glenn believes the Alachua County Commission has only focused on Gainesville and failed to represent rural residents. She said she’s running because she wants to represent the will of the people.
That’s why Eagle-Glenn unsuccessfully threatened to sue the Alachua County Commission over its face mask order in May. She said the mandate discriminated against those with medical disabilities and violated medical privacy.
“When I saw that the courts in this country were allowing local governments to continue with extreme regulations that infringe upon our basic constitutional rights, I decided I needed to take the fight to the ballot box,” she said.
Eagle-Glenn believes that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ orders were enough for Alachua County because the county is smaller than others, like Miami-Dade. Mask requirements and occupancy limits shouldn’t have been as strict as those in larger counties. Her store, Everything Mac, could only have half a person inside because of the county’s occupancy limits for 3 days in March. She appealed to the city of Gainesville, and her business was deemed essential.
If elected, she said she would only encourage residents to wear masks. She would also reduce occupancy limits on small businesses.
Eagle-Glenn also said she believes that Black lives matter, which is why she would advocate to police all neighborhoods equally. After speaking to some Black men in Alachua County, she said they want law and order within their neighborhoods. She would advocate to fund ACSO, infrastructure and education.
The county stunted East Gainesville’s growth in 2016 by not allowing Seattle-based Plum Creek Development to create a new city center in the area, she said.
The main change needs to stem from reworking the 2021 fiscal year budget, Eagle-Glenn said. Loosening COVID-19 restrictions will allow for more development, which could help the Black community grow because jobs will become available, she said. If jobs grow, so will affordable housing, she added.
Monetary Contributions: $31,290.69
Total Spending: $26,298.84
All information from Voter Focus.
Monetary contributions: $26,642.96
Total Spending: $18,071.54
All information from Voter Focus.