Donovan's priority is green

Published: Monday, January 14, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 14, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Jack Donovan said his philosophical and theological side comes out when he starts talking about policy and explaining his agenda.

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The Gainesville Sun


Jack Donovan

Age: 63

Occupation: Retired minister of Gainesville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Education: Bachelor's degree in literature from Dartmouth College, a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University, and a master's of divinity from the Graduate Theological Union's King School for Ministry in Berkeley, Calif.

Home: Westmoreland Estates in northwest Gainesville

Family: Wife, Alisun; three children

Political experience: Elected to City Commission District 3 in 2005.

Political experience: Elected to City Commission, District 3 in 2005.

Community involvement: Board, Affiliated Congregations to Improve Our Neighborhoods (ACTION Network); founding member, Interfaith Coalition Against Poverty; vice-chair, City of Gainesville Homeless Shelter Task Force; board, Planned Parenthood of North Central Florida.

Vote for me because: "We're working for a Gainesville that is vital in its economy and culture, sustainable in the balance of its population and environment, and safe and sound for all."

"Studies have shown that working with a math problem or a philosophical problem is a source of joy," said Donovan, 63.

For Donovan, serving as the city commissioner for District 3 has fueled that source of happiness.

"There's too much to do," Donovan said. "The City Commission is more than a full-time job."

Donovan is running in the Jan. 29 contest for re-election to the District 3 seat, which is elected by voting precincts in the southwest part of the city.

He is challenged by Army veteran Armando Grundy, 28, who works for a local retail store and Christopher Salazar, 20, who works for The Limited clothing store in The Oaks Mall and attends Santa Fe Community College.

Donovan, who moved to Gainesville 21 years ago, said his top priority is maintaining the quality of life in Gainesville, particularly through promoting sustainability and urban density. "I have been involved in creating a more green city," Donovan said.

One of his most important stands, Donovan said, was opposing a coal power plant in Gainesville, a position he took for environmental reasons.

Next, Donovan cites his work toward conservation with Gainesville Regional Utilities, as evidence of keeping with his agenda.

And in the future, Donovan said he hopes to see a revitalized downtown and east side of Gainesville.

"When development is more of a sprawl, it eats up a lot of natural resources, which are very important to our aquifer," Donovan said.

He promotes redevelopment in the urban core and to the east to prevent a loss of green space to the west.

"It's killing the water system," he said.

A part of Donovan's vision of a revitalized downtown includes a partnership with the University of Florida to attract high technology companies to Gainesville.

He identified two major problems keeping those businesses away that as a commissioner he would address.

"There are not enough flights into and out of Gainesville, and second, there's not enough built out office space for them to move into," Donovan said.

He proposed working closely with the airport authority and possibly creating an industrial park along Depot Avenue.

Donovan, a Democrat, spent many of his early years in social and volunteer work, including service in the Pacific Islands with the Peace Corps and work with the State Department in Vietnam during the war.

His undergraduate degree in literature resulted in about six years that Donovan said he spent "failing as the next great American novelist."

He said the neighborhoods and quality of life attracted him to Gainesville for his first ministerial position after obtaining his theology degree in 1986.

Megan Rolland can be reached at 338-3104 or megan.rolland@

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