Wheat, Chestnut are on the go, but Wheat takes lead


Published: Monday, March 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 29, 2004 at 7:51 p.m.
Alachua County Commissioner Penny Wheat has her colleague Cynthia Chestnut beat in one department - walking.
Wheat and Chestnut are the only two commissioners who have joined the communitywide effort called Gainesville on the Go, which has apparently made pedometers a hard-to-find item in the county.
Participants have been wearing pedometers to measure the steps they walk. They set goals to walk enough steps to reach other cities.
In the few weeks the program has been on, Wheat has walked more than 107,000 steps. That puts her close to Cedar Key at 112,000 steps, or 56 miles.
Chestnut has officially recorded more than 30,500 steps with county staff. That's less than halfway to the closest city - Ocala at 72,000 steps or 36 miles.
But unofficially, Chestnut may have reached Ocala.
"Lately the pedometer hasn't worked. I have to go buy another pedometer. I think so far I have walked to Ocala. The first week I had 30,000 and I need to add it up again. Yeah, I think I made it to Ocala," Chestnut said. "There has been a run on pedometers. They have been difficult to find - a pedometer in town - unless they have gotten some more."
  • Stick 'em with sweetness: Chestnut, meanwhile, didn't hesitate to get a point across about extending natural gas service to east Gainesville when Gainesville Regional Utilities General Manager Mike Kurtz was at last week's County Commission meeting.
    Chestnut noted that GRU is running gas lines to Celebration Oaks, a Habitat for Humanity complex on SE 21st Avenue. The lack of natural gas in east Gainesville has been a sore spot for residents there.
    "I want to thank you for extending natural gas lines to Celebration Oaks," said Chestnut, sweetly, to Kurtz. "I hope you will follow suit for the rest of east Gainesville."
  • Canvassing conflicts: So many members of the Gainesville City Commission have chosen sides in the upcoming mayor's race that it can't scrape up two impartial members to serve on the city's canvassing board.
    Only Commissioner Craig Lowe - who is running for re-election, but is unopposed - has volunteered his services.
    An ordinance inspired by the 2000 presidential election debacle and passed by the commission in the fall prohibits any commissioner actively supporting a candidate from sitting on the canvassing board.
    That description fits six of the seven commissioners.
    Mayor Tom Bussing is running for re-election and five other commissioners are dividing their support between his two challengers. Supporting former City Commissioner Pegeen Hanrahan are commissioners Warren Nielsen and Chuck Chestnut. Banker C.B. Daniel has the support of commissioners Ed Braddy, Rick Bryant and Tony Domenech.
    "Some of them have signs on their cars," said Clerk of the Commission Kurt Lannon, who also sits on the canvassing board.
    To solve the dilemma, City Attorney Marion Radson is quickly drafting a new ordinance in time for a March 30 runoff, which would be triggered if no candidate gets 50 percent in the vote March 9 city election. (The Alachua County canvassing board will handle the initial election because there will also be a presidential primary that day.)
    Bussing told his fellow commissioners at the board's Feb. 23 meeting that he would have preferred they stay neutral.
    "My personal view is that elected officials should do their best to stay out of the electoral process except their own campaigns," he said.
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