County Commissioner Mary Alford resigned May 16 after a Gainesville Sun investigation found her in violation of residency requirements.
Alford, who represented District 1, was required to live in the district she represented per state law. According to the investigation, Alford lives as a caregiver in District 4, which is represented by Commissioner Ken Cornell
“I have been honored to serve Alachua County and have worked hard to be an exemplary County Commissioner,” Alford wrote in her resignation letter to Governor Ron DeSantis. “However, I have had a singularly challenging few years, including several deaths in my family.”
Alford did not respond to The Alligator’s request for comment.
Alford ran against Raemi Eagle-Glenn in the 2020 election and won 63% of the vote, filling the seat previously held by Mike Byerly. During her term, Alford launched a Plant of the Month Program and encouraged a safe LGBTQ community.
Candidate’s include properties are included on the financial disclosure they must complete when running for office. Alford listed a house in District 1 as her primary residence despite residing in District 4.
Annie Orlando worked alongside Alford on the utility advisory board after running for an at-large city commission seat in 2014. During the election, Orlando’s opponents accused her of violating the residency requirements because she listed more than one property on her financial disclosure, one being in a retirement community inherited by her husband’s mother.
Orlando said she does not understand why Alford did not move to her primary residence.
“That, to me, means that this person doesn't think anybody is going to do anything to them about it, that they're above the law, and it doesn't apply otherwise” she said.
Gainesville resident Paul Wolfe supported Alford during her candidacy for the seat.
The 21-year-old said he thought Alford made a mistake but still considers her to be a stand-up member of the community.
“I think that the Supervisor of Elections should have conducted more rigorous confirmations of where candidates are living at the time of their election, and the County and City commissions should be doing the same for all of their members,” he wrote.
Alford resigned with more than two years left in her term. DeSantis will appoint an official to fill Alford’s seat until November 15.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Contact Mickenzie Hannon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MickenzieHannon.
Mickenzie is the city and county commission reporter for The Alligator’s Metro Desk. She is a third-year journalism major, specializing in data journalism and pursuing a master’s degree in audience analytics. When Mickenzie isn’t writing, she enjoys watching horror movies, reading, playing with her pets and attending concerts.