Jenn Powell

Jenn Powell 

Mayor Lauren Poe has competition this upcoming election.

Former Gainesville City Commissioner At-large candidate Jenn Powell, who ran in 2017, announced Wednesday morning that she will be running for mayor in the March local election.

Her only opponent at this time is incumbent Mayor Lauren Poe, who announced his run for a second term in November.

The city’s regular election for mayor and the District 4 commissioner will be on March 19. Voter registration closes on February 19.

Poe said he’s looking forward to campaigning over the next few months and for each candidate to share their stories and opinions.

“It wouldn’t be a democracy without an opponent and some competition,” Poe said. “I hope that I’ve done enough hard work over the past few years – not only as mayor but as a commissioner – to earn the vote for reelection.”

Powell, 40, is a single mother of four, a part-time legal assistant and owner of 352 Printshop, which she started in June and runs out of her home.

She ran for an at-large seat on the commission in 2017, but lost to Helen Warren by 9.3 percent.

“Most of my life I’ve paid attention to national politics, but then I realized it’s the local government that affects our day-to-day lives,” Powell said.

If elected, Powell said she wants to improve bus routes and frequency, address affordable housing and provide a living wage for all city employees.

“There are people who are suffering, and we aren’t hearing from,” Powell said. “Those are the people I’m running for.”

Powell said she has worked for the community during the 29 years she’s lived in Gainesville. She has done accounting for multiple small businesses and first got involved with local government in 2015 while working on the grassroots campaign for Bernie Sanders.

During that time, she has served on the city’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Community Development.

Sheryl Eddie, who works on the community development committee with Powell, said that it takes a lot of courage for women to run for office. Eddie ran for City Commission in 2014 and 2017, but she lost both races.

“I respect the fact that she’s putting herself out there and hasn’t given up on politics, and that she’s been super involved,” Eddie, 53, said.

Powell said she’s running to represent families like her own who know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck.

“Even if I don’t win, I can get people to come out and vote in municipal government elections,” Powell said.

Contact Karina Elwood at kelwood@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @karina_elwood.