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Friday, January 27, 2023

Breaking down the ballot: Who Gainesville residents will see in the general election

Mayor, commission, Congress all on ballots Nov. 8

After months of campaigning, canvassing and collecting donations, candidates are leaving it all in the voters’ hands. 

The Nov. 8 general election has arrived, and with it, a slew of candidates for Alachua County residents to choose from. From a high-profile gubernatorial contest to open spots on the Gainesville City Commission, races from all levels of government fill this year’s ballot.

The Alligator analyzed every candidate slated on Alachua County ballots, breaking down political history, platforms and primary polling performance for a quick look at the playing field. 

Early voting ended Sunday, but residents can vote at their designated precincts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Here’s how the races stack up ahead of the big day. 

Gainesville Mayor

Harvey Ward

Harvey Ward, a 55-year-old lifelong Gainesville resident and registered Democrat, has represented District 2 on the Gainesville City Commission since 2017. 

Ward’s mayoral platform includes eliminating fees on the Regional Transit System, bolstering economic development in east Gainesville, raising local wages and preserving county-wide natural spaces. 

Ward attended Howard Bishop Middle School and Eastside High School before attending Santa Fe College and eventually graduating with his degree in public relations from UF. Prior to his political career, Ward worked to fundraise for nonprofits.

While on the commission, Ward served on committees like the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization, the Alachua County Library Governing Board, the Racial Equity Committee and the Zero-Waste Committee. He spearheaded efforts to align city elections with a regional schedule and remove RTS fees for riders younger than 18 and older than 65. 

Ward was one of three commissioners to oppose the elimination of single-family zoning, along with Cynthia Chestnut and Desmon Duncan-Walker. The elimination passed last month by a 4-3 vote. 

Ward secured almost 28% of the vote in the August primary election, where he faced eight other candidates. He leads against runoff opponent Ed Bielarski, according to campaign finance data. 

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Ward’s contributions and disbursements are just ahead of Bielarski, according to Supervisor of Elections data. He posts $68,000 in contributions and $56,500 in disbursements, while Bielarski totals $63,000 in contributions and $52,700 in disbursements.

 

Ed Bielarski

Ed Bielarski, a 65-year-old Gainesville resident and non-party affiliate, is the former general manager of Gainesville Regional Utilities. 

Bielarski’s platform primarily focuses on lowering citywide utility costs through renewable energy and preserving city culture through the upkeep of historic neighborhoods. He’s been a vocal opponent of the elimination of single-family zoning and advocated for solar energy while general manager of GRU. 

Bielarski revitalized the Deerhaven Renewable Plant in his time at GRU, making it one of Gainesville’s most productive energy producers and saving the city around $900 million. He also pursued a partnership with Florida Power & Light and a UF contract bid in his time at GRU. 

Bielarski received almost 27% of the vote in the August primary election. He is behind Ward, according to campaign finance data. 

Alachua County Commission: District 1

Mary Alford

Mary Alford, a 61-year-old lifelong Floridian and environmental engineer, represented District 1 on the Alachua County Commission until she resigned in May due to a residency requirement violation. Her platform includes improving county roads and infrastructure, lowering utility costs and bolstering sustainability and environmental protections. 

Alford graduated from UF’s College of Engineering and has since worked in environmental engineering, affordable housing and sustainability. She served on Gainesville’s Utility Advisory Board and Alachua County’s Environmental Protection Advisory Board, along with other nonprofits.

Alford, a Democratic candidate, won her first election against Republican candidate Raemi-Eagle Glenn in 2020 with almost 63% of the vote. Alford will seek to win her seat back from Eagle-Glenn, who was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to replace Alford when she resigned, this election.

Data from the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections puts Alford just ahead of Eagle-Glenn in campaign finances, with Alford’s $22,000 in contributions and $20,000 in disbursements edging past Eagle-Glenn’s $19,000 in contributions and $8,000 in disbursements.

Raemi Eagle-Glenn

Raemi Eagle-Glenn, a 42-year-old registered Republican and lawyer, has represented District 1 on the Alachua County Commission since June. She was appointed by DeSantis to replace former commissioner Mary Alford, who resigned after a Gainesville Sun investigation found her in violation of residency requirements. 

Eagle-Glenn is running on a platform of improving county infrastructure and bolstering law enforcement. She has also been a vocal advocate for freedom of speech and supporting small businesses. 

Eagle-Glenn graduated from UF’s Levin College of Law in 2008 and now runs her own law firm, where she’s worked on prison reform, First Amendment cases, Americans with Disabilities Act violations, due process violations and more. She is also the state committeewoman for the Alachua County Republican Party. 

Though she holds the seat now, Eagle-Glenn originally lost District 1 to Mary Alford in 2020, earning 37% of the vote. She’s behind Alford in campaign finances. 

Alachua County Commission: District 2 

Ed Braddy

Ed Braddy, a 50-year-old registered Republican and Gainesville resident, is a former Gainesville mayor.

Braddy’s lone mayoral term spanned from 2013 to 2016. Prior to holding that office, Braddy served on the Gainesville City Commission from 2002 to 2008. 

Affordable housing and improved infrastructure are at the top of Braddy’s platform. He’s also advocated for single-member districts in Alachua County, which would only allow residents to vote for the county commissioner that represents their district as opposed to the current system of voting for the representative for every district. 

Braddy is ahead of Wheeler in finances, according to Supervisor of Elections data. Braddy totals around $38,000 in contributions and $32,000 in disbursements, while Wheeler’s checks in at around $25,000 in contributions and $23,000 in disbursements. 

Marihelen Wheeler

Marihelen Wheeler, a 65-year-old former educator and an Alachua County resident, is the District 2 representative and chair of the Alachua County Commission.

Wheeler worked in Alachua County Public Schools for 38 years, and she ran for Florida’s 21st State Congressional seat in 2012 and 2016. She lost the 2012 Democratic primary to Clovis Watson, Jr. and the 2016 general election to Rep. Chuck Clemons. Wheeler also ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat in 2014, losing the election to Rep. Ted Yoho.

Wheeler serves on several commissions across the county, including the National Association of Counties Human Services, the Alachua County Library District Governing Board and the Tourist Development Council. 

She’s running on a platform of increased economic opportunity, a more equitable community and expanded sustainability in response to climate change.

Wheeler defeated Charlie Ray Jackson in August’s Democratic primary with almost 73% of the vote. She’s behind Braddy, according to campaign finance data. 

Alachua County Commission: District 4 

Ken Cornell 

Ken Cornell, a 53-year-old Democrat and vice president of a realty firm, is the District 4 representative of the Alachua County Commission. 

A Gainesville native, Cornell graduated from Buchholz High School before attending UF to study accounting. He worked as a certified public accountant before working in realty. 

Cornell was first elected to the commission in 2014 and ran unopposed in his bid for reelection in 2018. He serves on the Alachua County Children’s Trust, the Library District Governing Board, the Metropolitan Transportation and Planning Organization, The Florida Association of Counties Growth, Agriculture, Transportation and Environment Committee, among other appointments. 

Cornell is running on a platform promoting public safety and road maintenance. He’s also highlighted environmental protections as a platform point throughout his tenure. 

Cornell ran uncontested in the primary election and leads challengers Van Elmore and Anthony Johnson, according to campaign finance data. 

The incumbent is well ahead, according to Supervisor of Elections data. Cornell’s $85,500 in contributions and $61,000 in disbursements swallow Elmore’s $9,000 in contributions and $9,000 in disbursements as well as Johnson’s $6,000 in contributions and $5,500 in disbursements.

Van Elmore

Van Elmore, a 53-year-old registered Republican, is retired emergency medical services lieutenant and lifelong Hawthorne resident. 

This is Elmore’s first race. He’s running on a platform of focusing on services like road maintenance and law enforcement, and he also aims to make better use of the Wild Spaces and Public Places funds for public parks. 

Elmore ran uncontested in the primary election. He’s behind Cornell and ahead of Anthony Johnson, according to campaign finance data. 

Anthony Johnson

Anthony Johnson, a 66-year-old non-party affiliate, is a cellular communications worker and Gainesville resident. 

Johnson’s never run for office, but he’s been a staple at County Commission meetings as a public commenter. As a self-proclaimed “budget hawk,” Johnson’s platform is centered on lowering taxes and restructuring county revenue management. 

Johnson’s behind Cornell and Elmore, according to campaign finance data. 

Gainesville City Commission: District 2

Ed Book

Ed Book is the 58-year-old chief of police at Santa Fe College and Alachua County resident of 40 years.

Book is a UF alumnus, graduating with bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1983 and a master’s in educational leadership in 2003. He also attended Wake Forest University and Broward Community College.

Book was previously a member of Keep Alachua County Beautiful and a mentor in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of North Central Florida. He’s running on a platform of affordable housing, improvements to parks and recreational facilities and support for public safety.

Book earned almost 40% of the vote in August’s primary election. He is ahead of Ingle according to campaign finance data from the Supervisor of Elections, as his $69,000 in contributions and $56,500 in disbursements leads Ingle’s $55,000 in contributions and $51,500 in disbursements.

James Ingle

James Ingle is a 45-year-old electrician and Gainesville resident of more than 20 years.

Ingle is a member of the Alachua County Charter Review Commission, the Alachua County Plan Board and the CareerSource Board. He’s also the president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers chapter that represents north central Florida, west Florida and south Georgia.

As a local activist, Ingle’s advocated for a living wage ordinance and apprentice opportunities. He’s running on a platform of maintaining the single-family zoning policy the commission just voted to eliminate, lowering local utility bills, bolstering job creation and preserving natural spaces.

Ingle won 27% of the vote in August’s primary election. He’s behind Book, according to campaign finance data. 

Gainesville City Commission: District 3

Dejeon Cain

Dejeon Cain is a 38-year-old owner of a security company and lifelong Gainesville resident.

Cain is the chair of the city’s Human Rights Board and the Alachua County Affordable Housing Commission. He’s running on a platform of expanding affordable housing and lowering citywide utility rates.

Cain tallied almost 36% of the vote in August’s primary election. Data from the Supervisor of Elections gives Cain a lead on Willits, with his $21,000 in contributions and $17,000 in disbursements ahead of Willits’ $17,000 in contributions and $14,000 in disbursements.

Casey Willits

Casey Willits is a 40-year-old UF college of medicine residency program coordinator and Gainesville resident.

Willits graduated with his bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Arkansas in 2007, and he was the president of the Alachua County Young Democrats and a member of the steering committee of the UF chapter of United Campus Workers. 

Willits worked with the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012 as a regional field director and field organizer. He’s endorsed by groups like Equality Florida, the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus and the Human Rights Council of North Central Florida.

Willits is running on a platform of implementing renewable energy and lowering utility rates, building a new park in District 3, improving public transportation and expanding affordable housing.

Willits earned 49% of the vote in August’s primary election. He’s currently behind Cain, according to campaign finance. 

Governor 

Ron DeSantis 

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 44-year-old former Navy lieutenant and former representative in the U.S. House, is the Republican incumbent in the gubernatorial election. 

DeSantis attended Yale University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history in 2001, and Harvard Law School, where he completed his law degree in 2005. He then served in the Navy, including deployment on a SEAL team to Iraq, until he was honorably discharged in 2010.

DeSantis’ political career began with a bid for the U.S. House, when he ran to represent Florida’s 6th Congressional District in 2012. He won his first race and was re-elected in the 2014 and 2016 elections, and he served as a representative until 2018. 

A gubernatorial bid came in 2018, where DeSantis won a crowded Republican primary with 56% of the vote. He narrowly defeated Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum in the general election, winning by just 32,000 ballots to take 49.6% of the vote.

DeSantis’ time in office has proven controversial. Notably, he signed a 15-week abortion ban into law, moved to keep Florida businesses and schools open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, passed the Stop Woke Act to limit topics of discussion in classrooms and approved the Parental Rights in Education Act — or “Don’t Say Gay” bill — to keep discussions regarding gender identity and sexual orientation out of certain grade levels in school. 

DeSantis is running on a platform of increasing parental participation in education, strengthening law enforcement, preserving natural spaces and bolstering statewide infrastructure. The Republican primary was canceled because DeSantis ran unopposed. 

DeSantis brought in $40.5 million in contributions compared to opponent Rep. Charlie Crist's $17.5 million, according to data from the Florida Division of Elections. DeSantis has also spent $22.5 million on campaign expenditures, while Crist has spent $17 million.

Charlie Crist 

Charlie Crist, a 66-year-old attorney and former representative in the U.S. House, is the Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial election.

This year’s Florida gubernatorial election is Crist’s third; he ran as a Republican in 2006 and won against Democratic nominee Jim Davis, but he lost the general election to Republican nominee Rick Scott when he ran as a Democrat in 2014. 

Crist was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives representative for Florida’s 13th Congressional District in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

While in Congress, Crist voted to pass legislation to expand access to voter registration, prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in areas like education and federal funding, prohibit governments from restricting access to abortion and impeach former President Donald Trump. 

Crist’s running on a platform of securing the right to an abortion, expanding access to voter registration, reducing run-off and pollution in the state water supply and mitigating the statewide teacher shortage. He won the Democratic primary with 60% of the vote. 

Crist is behind DeSantis, according to campaign finance data. 

U.S. Senate

Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio, a 51-year-old politician and Miami native, is the Republican incumbent in the U.S. Senate. 

Rubio earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UF in 1993 and his law degree from the University of Miami in 1996. He then served as a city commissioner in Miami before he was first elected to represent District 111 in the state House in 2000, where he eventually became speaker. 

Rubio served in the state House until 2008, when he made his first bid at U.S. Senate and defeated a crowded field — including Crist, who ran as an independent — with 50% of the vote. Rubio was re-elected in 2016 following an unsuccessful presidential bid, winning 52% of the vote against Democratic nominee Patrick Murphy and a slew of independent candidates. 

In the Senate, Rubio serves on the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations, and he chairs the Committee on Intelligence. He’s proposed almost 600 bills during his two Congressional terms, including legislation expanding parental leave and access to pregnancy resources, providing relief funds for small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing military funding. 

Rubio voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act, which moved to secure nationwide access to abortion, and the American Rescue Plan Act, American Rescue Plan Act, which distributed $1.9 trillion in nationwide COVID-19 relief efforts. He voted to renew the PATRIOT Act, which broadens governmental surveillance powers, and to block an emergency declaration by former President Donald Trump to allocate funds toward a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. 

Rubio is running on a platform of supporting small businesses, restoring state natural spaces and bolstering job creation. He’s behind opponent Rep. Val Demings, according to campaign finance data. 

Campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission puts Demings ahead. She’s brought in $73 million in contributions and spent $65 million in disbursements, while Rubio trails at $39.5 million in contributions and $38.5 million in disbursements.

Val Demings 

Rep. Val Demings, a 65-year-old former Orlando Police Department chief and representative in the U.S. House, is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Demings graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminology before completing her master’s degree in public administration at Webster University in 1996. Shethen relocated to Orlando, enrolling in the police academy and becoming an officer — and eventually the first female chief — at the Orlando Police Department.

Demings was elected Florida’s 10th Congressional District U.S. representative in 2016, when she defeated Republican nominee Thuy Lowe in the general election. She retained her position when she ran unopposed in 2018 and again in 2020, winning against Republican nominee Vennia Francois. 

While in Congress, Demings voted to pass legislation to expand voter registration, provide nationwide infrastructure funding, prohibit governments from limiting the right to abortion and distribute relief funds during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Demings is running on a platform of providing aid to small businesses, expanding affordable healthcare and increasing funding to law enforcement agencies. She won August’s Democratic primary with 84% of the vote. 

Demings is ahead of Rubio, according to campaign finance data. 

U.S. House: Florida’s 3rd Congressional District

Kat Cammack

Rep. Kat Cammack, the 34-year-old incumbent for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, is the youngest Republican woman in Congress.

A Colorado native who grew up on a cattle farm, Cammack graduated Metropolitan State University with a bachelor’s degree in international relations in 2015. She then completed her master’s in national defense and strategic studies at the United States Naval War College in 2018 before moving to Florida.

Cammack worked as the deputy chief of staff to former Rep. Ted Yoho, who previously served the 3rd District, before entering her first race in 2020. She won against Democratic candidate Adam Christensen in the general election.

Since then, Cammack has co-sponsored just under 300 bills introduced in the U.S. House, including legislation limiting Congressional terms, securing the right of Southern states to increase border defense and preventing taxpayer-funded abortions. The 12 bills she’s sponsored, including legislation strengthening Homeland Security and advocating for rural internet access, have not made it to law.

Cammack voted against legislation to ban assault weapons, ensure access to contraceptives and abortions, limit the cost of insulin under private health insurance and address issues relating to presidential abuses of power. 

She voted in support of legislation to suspend normal trade proceedings with Russia and Belarus amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, officially recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial marriages, declare lynching a federal offense and expand emergency telehealth resources beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cammack won August’s Republican primary with 85% of the vote. She’s ahead of opponent Danielle Hawk, according to campaign finance data, with her $2 million in contributions and $2 million in disbursements surpassing Hawk’s $76,500 in contributions and $50,000 in disbursements.

Danielle Hawk 

Danielle Hawk, a 28-year-old Gainesville resident of four years and community organizer, is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House.

Hawk, a Pennsylvania native, moved to West Palm Beach in 2013 to attend Palm Beach Atlantic University. She graduated with her bachelor’s in ministry in 2017 and received her master’s in intercultural studies from Biola University in 2020.

Hawk’s running on a platform of implementing stricter gun laws and more expansive buyback programs to mitigate the surge in gun violence, codifying the right to an abortion as granted by Roe v. Wade — a decision the U.S. Supreme Court overturned June 24 — into federal law and banning oil drilling to combat climate change. This is her first campaign.

Hawk won August’s Democratic primary with 67% of the vote. She’s behind opponent Cammack, according to campaign finance data.

State Senate: District 9

Keith Perry

Keith Perry, a 63-year-old former state House representative and current District 8 senator in the state Senate, is the Republican candidate for the District 9 Senate seat.

A Gainesville native, Perry graduated from Buchholz High School in 1976 and started his roofing business soon after. He entered politics in 2010 with a successful campaign for the District 21 seat in the state House, where he defeated Democratic nominee Jon Paugh with 61% of the vote.

Perry ran for the District 8 seat in the state Senate in 2016 after two re-elections to the House. He won against Democratic nominee Rod Smith with 52% of the vote after running unopposed in the Republican primary, and he narrowly defeated Democratic nominee Kayser Enneking in 2018 with 49% of the vote. Perry ran unopposed in 2020.

In the Senate, Perry serves on the Agriculture Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, Environment and Natural Resources Committee and Criminal Justice Committee, and he’s the vice chair of the Transportation Committee. He’s proposed legislation expanding education for student inmates, expediting the pathways for veterans to become teachers and ensuring information and resources are provided to victims of crimes.

Perry’s running on a platform of increasing funding to education, preserving natural spaces, bolstering job creation and cutting taxes. He ran unopposed in August’s Republican primary.

Perry’s ahead of Long in the battle for the district, according Florida Division of Elections data. His $340,500 in contributions and $170,000 in disbursements surpass Long’s $71,500 in contributions and $70,000 in disbursements.

Rodney Long

Rodney Long, a 65-year-old former Gainesville mayor and Alachua County commissioner, is the Democratic candidate for District 9.

A Gainesville native, Long graduated from Gainesville High School before attending UF, Santa Fe College, Howard University and Adullam Bible College. He served as the secretary of Gainesville’s branch of the NAACP from 1982-1989, and he was first elected to the City Commission in 1988. 

Long served on the commission until 1994, including a brief mayoral stint in 1991. He was elected to Alachua County Commission in 2000 and held that position until 2011.

Long’s other positions include spots on the Countywide Vision and Planning Committee, the Value Adjustment Board, the Alachua County Library District Governing Board and the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization. He made an unsuccessful run at District 20 of the state House in 2020, when he lost the Democratic primary to Rep. Yvonne Hayes-Hinson.

Long is running on a platform of increasing affordable housing, reforming law enforcement agencies, expanding Medicaid and safeguarding abortion access. He ran unopposed in August’s Democratic primary.

He’s behind opponent Perry, according to campaign finance data.

State House: District 21

Yvonne Hayes-Hinson 

Yvonne Hayes-Hinson, a 74-year-old Gainesville native and educator, is the Democratic nominee for District 21 in the Florida House of Representatives. 

Hayes-Hinson graduated with her bachelor’s degree in education from UF in 1971, and she earned her master’s in education from UF the next year. She’s the president of the University of Florida Black Alumni Association and a member of the NAACP, ACLU, Alachua County Democratic Executive Committee and the Democratic Women’s Club. 

Hayes-Hinson’s political ventures began with a bid for U.S. House in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District in 2018, when she lost in the general election to Republican Rep. Ted Yoho. She ran a successful campaign for District 20 in the state House in 2020, when she defeated Rodney Long in the Democratic primary with 60% of the vote and ran unopposed in the general. 

While in the House, Hayes-Hinson has proposed legislation prohibiting the sale of assault weapons, expanding definitions of prejudice and creating an energy task force. She’s running on a platform of improving education, reforming the criminal justice system and increasing affordable housing. 

Hayes-Hinson ran unopposed in August’s Democratic primary. Campaign finance data from the Florida Division of Elections puts her well ahead of Merton, with her $81,500 in contributions and $38,000 in disbursements dwarfing Merton’s $10,000 in contributions and $9,000 in expenditures.

Hollye Merton

Hollye Merton, a 65-year-old retired Navy technician and Gainesville resident, is the Republican nominee for District 21 in the Florida House of Representatives. 

A Ft. Lauderdale native, Merton moved to Virginia in 1993 and earned her MBA and master’s in technology management from University of Maryland Global Campus before moving to Gainesville in 2003. She then founded an antenna manufacturing plant and has since worked in technical service for Alachua County and Gainesville Regional Utilities. 

This is Merton’s first campaign. She’s running on a platform of defending the Second Amendment and bolstering parental involvement in education. 

Merton ran unopposed in August’s Republican primary. She’s behind opponent Hayes-Hinson, according to campaign finance data. 

State House: District 22

Chuck Clemons 

Chuck Clemons, a 65-year-old former financial consultant and Alachua County native, is the Republican nominee for District 22 in the Florida House of Representatives

A fourth generation Floridian, Clemons graduated from the University of Florida with his bachelor’s degree from the College of Journalism and Communications. He was an Alachua County commissioner from 1996 to 200 and is currently vice president for development at Santa Fe College.

Clemons has served in the Florida House since 2016, when he won his first race against Democratic nominee Marihelen Wheeler with 54% of the vote. He was re-elected in 2018 and 2020, when he narrowly defeated Democratic nominees Jason Haeseler and Kayser Enneking with 51% of the vote both years.

While in the House, Clemons sponsored legislation to provide education to prisoners, exempt the autopsy reports of minors from public records laws and provide aid to Dixie County amid flood damage during his time as a representative.

Points on Clemons’ platform include increased funding to education, protection of natural resources, growth in the agriculture industry and job creation. He won August’s Republican primary against Ty Appiah with 71% of the vote. 

Data from the Florida Division of Elections puts Clemons ahead of Peters, with Clemons’ $409,000 in contributions and $217,500 in disbursements surpassing Peters’ $209,000 in contributions and $176,500 in disbursements.

Brandon Peters

Brandon Scott Peters, 54-year-old attorney and Levy County resident, is the Democratic nominee for District 21 in the Florida House of Representatives. 

Peters graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in public policy analysis in 1989 and completed his law degree at the University of Virginia in 1992 before opening his own law practice in Williston. 

Peters’ platform includes protecting the right to abortion, legalizing recreational marijuana use, expanding Medicare, and increasing funds toward education. This is his third race; he lost the 2018 Democratic primary to Bob Rackleff and withdrew from the 2020 Democratic primary. 

Peters won August’s Democratic primary against Olysha Magruder with almost 52% of the vote. He is behind opponent Clemons, according to campaign finance data. 

Attorney General

Ashley Moody

Ashley Moody, a 47-year-old commercial litigator and Plant City native, is the Republican incumbent for attorney general. 

Moody graduated with her bachelor’s degree in accounting from UF, where she later earned her law degree. She also graduated with a master of laws degree in international law from Stetson University.

Prior to her political ventures, Moody was an assistant attorney in Florida’s Middle District, an assistant to the president of the American Bar Association and an adjunct professor at Stetson’s law school. She was elected as a judge in the 13th Judicial Circuit in 2006 and served there until she resigned in 2017 to run for attorney general. 

Moody won the 2018 election for attorney general against Democratic candidate Sean Shaw and non-party affiliate Jeffrey Siskind with 52% of the vote. She ran unopposed in August’s Republican primary. 

While attorney general, Moody has served on Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, and she’s the chair of state task forces on opioid abuse and human trafficking. She’s been vocal in opposing the legalization of marijuana and the restoration of felon voting rights, and she pursued a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act on behalf of Florida.

Data from the Florida Division of Elections has the incumbent well ahead. Moody’s $3.5 million in contributions and $2 million in disbursements tower over Ayala’s $218,000 in contributions and $173,000 in disbursements.

Aramis Ayala

Aramis Ayala, a 47-year-old attorney and Orlando resident, is the Democratic candidate for attorney general. 

Ayala became Florida’s first Black state attorney when she was elected to the Ninth Judicial Circuit in 2017. She was previously an assistant public defender and the assistant State Attorney in the Ninth Circuit, where she worked in homicide and major crimes. She is also an assistant professor in the University of Florida’s legal studies department and an adjunct professor in Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s law school. 

Ayala is running on a platform of reforming public safety, defending workers’ rights and securing the right to abortion. She defeated Daniel Uhlfelder and Jim Lewis in August’s Democratic primary with 45% of the vote. 

Ayala is behind opponent Moody, according to campaign finance data.

Eighth Judicial Circuit Judge

Sean Brewer

Sean Brewer is a Gainesville resident and assistant state attorney in the Eighth Circuit. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree in exercise science and law degree from UF.

Brewer has served as a prosecutor against domestic abuse crimes against women and major gun crimes in Alachua, Levy and Marion Counties, and he’s a member of the Eighth Judicial Bar Association and the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association.

Brewer earned almost 38% of the vote in August’s primary election. Data from the Florida Division of Elections puts Brewer ahead with $254,000 in contributions and $233,500 in disbursements compared to Martin’s $70,500 in contributions and $65,000 in disbursements.

AuBroncee Martin

AuBroncee Martin is a Gainesville resident and a felony division chief in the Alachua County public defender’s office.

A Tallahassee native, Martin graduated with his bachelor’s degree in history from Florida A&M University and completed his law degree at UF. He was the president of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Chapter of the Florida Association of Defense Lawyers, Josiah T. Wells Bar Association and Eighth Judicial Bar Association, as well as an adjunct professor at UF’s Levin College of Law.

Martin won more than 25% of the vote in August’s primary election. He trails opponent Brewer, according to campaign finance data.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Wilton Simpson

Wilton Simpson, a 56-year-old state senator and Tilby resident, the Republican nominee for the commissioner of agriculture.

Simpson graduated with his associate of arts degree from Pasco-Hernando State College in 1997. He founded Simpson Environmental Services, an environmental remediation firm in Tilby. 

Simpson was elected in Florida’s 18th Congressional District to the state Senate in 2012 and 2014, and he ran unopposed both times. He was elected in Florida’s 10th Congressional District in 2016, when he ran unopposed and in 2018, when he defeated Michael Cottrell in the general election. 

Simpson was elected Florida Senate President in 2019, and while in office, he has proposed legislation promoting financial literacy, designating conservation areas across the state and expanding the standards of child welfare. 

Simpson is running on a platform of advocating for state farmers, increasing funding to law enforcement, supporting small businesses and protecting state waterways. He defeated James Shaw in August’s Republican primary with 65% of the vote. 

Data from the Florida Division of Elections puts Simpson ahead with $3 million in contributions and $2.5 million in disbursements, compared to Blemur’s $124,000 in contributions and $104,000 in disbursements.

Naomi Blemur

Naomi Blemur, a 43-year-old manager of a consulting firm and Miami resident, is the Democratic nominee for the commissioner of agriculture. 

Blemur graduated from Queens College with a degree in accounting and economics. She also studied business in the European Union in France and marketing in Spain. Blemur has since worked with a consulting firm and several nonprofits, and she was elected to the Miami Dade Democratic Executive Committee. 

Blemur is running on a platform of combating poverty and hunger, securing equity in education and mitigating climate change. She defeated J.R. Gaillot and Ryan Morales in August’s Democratic primary with 50% of the vote.

Blemur is behind opponent Sen. Wilton Simpson, according to campaign finance data. 

Contact Heather at hbushman@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @hmb_1013.

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Heather Bushman

Heather Bushman is a fourth-year journalism and political science student and the enterprise elections reporter. She previously wrote and edited for the Avenue desk and reported for WUFT News. You can usually find her writing, listening to music or writing about listening to music. Ask her about synesthesia or her album tier list sometime.


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