A Sun endorsement: City Commission At-large 2: Thomas Hawkins Jr.


Published: Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2008 at 7:45 p.m.

Observing the current City Commission elections, one gets the sense that a generational change in city leadership is occurring. This field of candidates is packed with promising newcomers to the Gainesville political scene.

In the at-large District 2 race are two young men who are as impressive as they are articulate in laying out their visions for Gainesville's future.

Robert Agrusa moved here from Tampa nearly five years ago to attend the University of Florida and stayed after graduation. He has already had an impact on the community; having helped secure grant money for Sunday bus service.

Agrusa's campaign issues include better support for public safety, transportation improvements and responsible growth and redevelopment. If elected, he will be a fine commissioner.

But The Sun recommends Thomas Hawkins Jr. for the at-large District 2 seat. Hawkins is a fifth generation Gainesville native who lives in the Pleasant Street neighborhood and practices land use law with former City Commissioner David Coffey. He will be a champion for quality infill development, neighborhood revitalization and smart growth management practices.

It has only been in recent years that we have begun to see measurable improvements in Gainesville's urban core redevelopment. But the policies, land-use changes and incentive system that have helped revitalize downtown and bring more housing and mixed-use development into the city's center have been implemented by a succession of city commissions.

Hawkins, wants to build upon those gains. "Downtown, our existing commercial centers, and parts of east Gainesville can be mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented areas," he says.

Growth pressures have been responsible for many of the challenges, as well as the opportunities, confronting Gainesville. Hawkins will help reshape this university community into a more liveable and economically vibrant city.

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