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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Campaign efforts for Florida House of Representatives District 22 gear up

A competitive election is in the future as Rep. Chuck Clemons hits term limit

In less than 150 days, Alachua County citizens will cast their vote in the primaries for Florida House Seat 22 to determine who will be on the ballot in the November election.

This election will determine Rep. Chuck Clemons’ (R-22) replacement after his eight-year run in the Florida House of Representatives. 

Clemons currently holds a House leadership position as Speaker Pro Tempore and has supported bills that have helped low-income families, like House Bill 7109, which discounts property taxes for affordable housing units.

He sponsored House Bill 1645, allowing Gainesville Regional Authority members to be governor appointed, which led to the creation of Gainesville Residents United, a group of Gainesville residents who filed lawsuits against the board. The result of one of the lawsuits led to the resignation of all four board members. 

Clemons has served four, two-year terms for a total of eight years in the House. As of 2024, three members represent different parts of Alachua County in the House: Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson (D-21), Rep. Chuck Brannan (R-10) and Clemons.

However as the election gears up, there are several candidates fighting to be on the Republican and Democratic primary ballots including: Amy Trask (D), David Arreola (D), Chad Johnson (R) and Raemi Eagle-Glenn (R).

Amy Trask (D)

Amy Trask, a mother and the granddaughter to Alan Trask, former president pro tempore of the Senate in the late 1970s and early 80s, is throwing her hat in the ring for the Democratic ballot.

Her inspiration for running: Her two kids. 

“My campaign is a love letter to my children. I’m so scared to see the world that they’re inheriting,” Trask said. “We’re going to go more and more into this dystopian Handmaid’s Tale version of reality.”

Trask’s approach to campaigning is much different than both her Democratic and Republican opponents in terms of division, she said. 

“If you were to put my primary opponent and my Republican opponent in a room and tell them to make a law or work together, it wouldn’t happen, because they’re both calling each other names,” she said. “That’s not how we can do things.” 

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Trask has a background in conflict resolution, specifically de-escalation, from her time at Harvard Safra Center for Ethics, which she believes makes her the most equipped to pass legislation, she said. 

She also aims to focus on women’s representation and education censorship in the Florida House. 

Trask is one of two women running, and as a result has received mass support from young women across the state expressing thanks for the political representation she’s providing, she said. 

“That was so inspiring for me to hear. I’m here to the end, and I’m so proud of what we’re doing,” Trask said. 

David Arreola (D)

Her Democratic opponent, David Arreola, the youngest Gainesville city commissioner to date, is campaigning to “fight back against extremists who are hurting our community,” according to his campaign website

“The extremism going on in Florida is really hitting close to home, the direction that the legislature is taking us is a very unsafe one,” Arreola said.

He ran for Gainesville mayor in 2022, but lost to Harvey Ward, the current Gainesville mayor. 

Arreola has voiced his strong opposition to current Republicans in the Florida congress and their recent legislation. The Florida House of Representatives recently took a vote repealing one of the Parkland gun safety reforms that he disagreed with. 

“They are actively working against this issue,” he said. “They are working against the issues I care about.”

He hopes to focus on gun control along with abortion and reducing homeowners insurance. 

The House has already pursued the six-week abortion ban and has not allowed any exceptions in abortion access, he said. 

His solution: Electing more Democrats to the state legislature. While aiming to replace a Republican seat is very competitive, it can be done, he said.

“We have opposition on the Republican side. They want to talk about culture wars, wokeism or whatever MAGA phrase of the day they’re coming up with to term things that they want to write laws about,” Arreola said. 

Arreola has been endorsed by Steve Wilson, mayor of Belle Glade, Florida, local officials in Levy County and farms in Gilchrist County.

The current majority of the Florida House of Representatives is Republican with the party holding 84 seats, while the Democratic party holds 36 seats.

Outside the Democratic party, Trask and Arreola are running against Raemi Eagle-Glenn and Chad Johnson. 

Chad Johnson (R)

Chad Johnson, a candidate running to be in the Republican primary, is a Levy County farmer and businessman originally from Alachua County, fighting to defend free markets, limited governments and private property rights, according to his website

Johnson’s main goal now is to gain enough signatures to put him on the Republican Primary Ballot. 

For District 22, it takes 1,266 signatures or an option to pay a fee in order to have your name on the ballot, he said. 

Johnson currently has about 700 signatures, and is confident his name will be on the ballot, one way or the other, he said. 

Johnson is a former Levy County Commissioner, past president of the Levy County Farm Bureau and the Florida Auctioneers Association. His campaign mainly focuses on agricultural issues. 

“Agriculture does play a part in everybody’s life,” he said. “Whether you live in downtown Gainesville or you live in Gilchrist County — we all need to eat.”

Along with his direct commitment to the agriculture community within District 22, the current seat holder, Rep. Chuck Clemons has publicly endorsed Johnson’s campaign. 

“You win anytime you get the Speaker Pro Tempore to come out and endorse your campaign. It is a great shot of energy and huge boost,” Johnson said. “We’re just honored and blessed to have that endorsement.” 

In terms of who his opponent might be, if making it past the Republican primary, Johnson affirms both Democratic candidates.

“Mr. Arreola has much more campaign experience and has been in leadership in Gainesville in the past so I could see the Democratic party supporting him,” he said. “I think  [Amy Trask] has got some new ideas and she would be a formidable opponent as well.”

Raemi Eagle-Glenn (R)

Johnson’s Republican opponent is Raemi Eagle-Glenn, who served as a Gov. Ron DeSantis-appointed county commissioner in 2022. 

Eagle-Glenn also currently owns Everything Mac, an Apple product repair service in Gainesville. She believes her small business ownership experience makes her the best person to fill this seat, she said. 

“It’s given me an eye for limiting government and cutting away what is unnecessary to focus on our tax dollar resources on essential services like public safety and infrastructure,” she said.

Her campaign will focus on public safety and infrastructure, meaning funding the police, first responders and firefighters, she said. 

She also aims to target the immigration issues at the United States southern border.

“We have an invasion at our southern border,” she said. “People are afraid that the city of Gainesville and Alachua County serve as welcoming cities, which advertises to illegal aliens.” 

Eagle-Glenn believes undocumented immigrants are coming into the U.S. causing an economic downturn and, in turn, middle-class Americans struggling to pay for food, gas and healthcare, she said. 

Eagle-Glenn believes she will be on the election ballot come November, she said.

“It will be me,” she said. 

City residents can vote for their preferred candidate in the Aug. 20 primaries. Rep. Chuck Clemons’ successor will be elected in November.

Contact Kairi Lowery at klowery@alligator.org. Follow her on X @kairiloweryy.

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Kairi Lowery

Kairi Lowery is a second-year journalism major and a metro general assignment reporter for The Alligator. When she's not writing you can find her lounging on the beach with a book or collecting vinyls. 


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