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Thursday, February 22, 2024

City may be fined for trying to require employee vaccines, interim city attorney appointed

The city also discussed the upcoming special election for November

<p>Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe (left) and City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos (right) listen to public comment at a City Commission meeting on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.</p>

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe (left) and City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos (right) listen to public comment at a City Commission meeting on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.

Daniel Nee is Gainesville's interim city attorney following a Monday City Commission meeting.

Nicolle Shalley, who held the position before Nee, resigned Sept. 8 and her last day will be Nov. 12, according to her letter of resignation. She will become Levy County’s attorney, she wrote. Shalley was the fourth city official to resign in the past four months.

The commission voted between Nee and Sean McDermott, a senior assistant city attorney. Nee, the city's current litigation attorney, won the vote 4-2. A breakdown on the vote was not readily available due to a vote by ballot, rather than calling out their votes.

The commission also received a letter from the Florida Department of Health addressed to Mayor Poe Sept. 24, stating the city could be fined $5,000 per individual who was subjected to the vaccine mandate.

In a response to the FDOH, city manager Lee Feldman wrote there are no city employees who are subject to the vaccine mandate as of Sept. 28, as the city rescinded the mandate Sept. 23.

Commissioner David Arreola put forth the motion to reconsider the mandate and said the city should consider a plan close to President Joe Biden’s vaccine plan, which requires employers with more than 100 workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly.

Circuit Judge Monica Brasington opposed the mandate Sept. 22. The ruling gave employees temporary injunction, which means employees cannot be disciplined or terminated for not being vaccinated. This ruling could be overturned in the future.

The city also decided that Poe would officially announce the special election to replace former Commissioner Gail Johnson, who resigned on Aug. 23 and will leave city hall Oct. 2. 

The announcement details the start of the election cycle with early voting open from Nov. 12 to Nov. 14, and the election day is set for Nov. 16.  

The special election qualifications for the At-Large, Seat B seat ended Friday with five candidates in the running: Cynthia Chestnut, former chair of the Alachua County Democratic Party; Matt Howland, a UF graduate and former middle school teacher; Scherwin Henry, a former city commissioner; Patrick Ingle, a retiree and Uber and Lyft driver; and Gabe Kaimowitz, a disbarred lawyer who ran against Johnson in March as Gabriel Hillel.

Contact Meghan at Follow her on Twitter @meggmcglone.

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Meghan McGlone

Meghan McGlone is a UF junior majoring in journalism and English, and this year she’s the City and County Commission reporter. In past years, she’s served as the University Editor, the Student Government reporter, and other positions. Her favorite past time is eating gummy worms and reading a good book.

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