Mott, Poe will square off in runoff
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 4:52 p.m.
In the Gainesville City Commission election Tuesday, Thomas Hawkins Jr. was elected for the at-large 2 seat, and the incumbent for District 3, Jack Donovan, was elected to a second term.
The anticipated tight race for the District 2 seat did not disappoint as none of the three candidates received a majority and it must be decided in a runoff election on Feb. 19.
The finalists for the runoff were Bonnie Mott and Lauren Poe. Bryan Harman came in third and was eliminated from the race.
Hawkins is a 28-year-old attorney specializing in growth management law. He defeated 22-year-old Robert Agrusa, who was expected to pull from a large student voting turnout for the at-large seat.
Hawkins received approximately 65 percent of the vote, with Agrusa pulling in 5,710 votes or 35 percent.
“I think we’ve got some work to do,” said Hawkins, reiterating his plan to foster an urban-walkable environment in downtown Gainesville.
Hawkins said he felt like he was received well by the student organizations to which he talked. “Students are concerned about the same things we all are,” he said.
Agrusa, a December graduate from the University of Florida, said he was surprised by the results, but said he learned a lot from the process. “It was a great opportunity,” Agrusa said. “It was something that was needed and could open the door for other young adults.”
He said he was proud of the turnout, especially given his age.
Donovan, 63, was re-elected to a second term as commissioner for District 3 in a landslide victory against Armando Grundy, a 28-year-old Army veteran, and Christopher Salazar, a 22-year-old worker in a local retail store.
“I’m thrilled,” Donovan said, who captured 70 percent of the vote. He said he is looking forward to serving on the commission for another three years, especially with many important issues in the forefront. “The margin was great, and I think this was a vote by the voters for experience.”
Grundy, who spoke frequently about ending “corporate welfare giveaways,” received 663 votes or approximately 16 percent.
“Our campaign is very well pleased with this election,” Grundy said. “We got to broaden the scope of discussion in this election.”
“I’m going to go forward and be a leader,” Grundy said. “It’s been a tough hard-fought race. We were outspent drastically.”
And Salazar, who had been enrolled at Santa Fe Community College, received 572 votes or approximately 14 percent.
“I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t win,” Salazar said. “I wish Mr. Donovan well and look forward to working with him as a private citizen.”
Mott and Poe will face each other again on Feb. 19 to determine the commissioner for District 3, which represents southwest Gainesville.
Eliminated from that race was Bryan Harman, 33, who moved to Gainesville in 2003. He received 1,762 votes or 23 percent. Harman could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Mott, 58, a local Realtor who owns Prudential Preferred Properties, received 3,168 votes or 42 percent.
Poe is a 36-year-old professor at Santa Fe Community College, and he was slightly behind Mott with 2,674 votes or approximately 35 percent.
“It’s going to be a different story,” said Poe of the runoff. “Obviously turnout is going to be less. It’s much more about getting your supporters to come out and vote.”
Poe said he has a volunteer base of 100 people and is very optimistic about his chances. Mott said she is looking forward to the next step in the race. “Certainly it was a good turnout. It’s going to be a challenge going into the next three weeks,” she said.
An interesting aspect of the race were calls at Monday night’s City Commission meeting to not re-elect Donovan due to his vote in favor of an anti-discrimination policy protecting transgender individuals.
Other people promised to vote for conservatives who might reverse the ordinance.
Commissioners Rick Bryant and Ed Braddy were the only two who opposed the ordinance the first time it came before the commission, and both will be replaced on the commission — Braddy due to term limits and Bryant because he’s running for the County Commission.
“I think the City Commission will become more liberal,” said Braddy after he voted Tuesday.
Bryant said he thinks a lot will depend on the result of the runoff election for District 2.
Bryant was in a runoff election in his first race, which he didn’t win, and said from experience that it is a whole new game. “They’ve earned the right to sleep in late tomorrow, but the next day — until the next election — they have to work hard to get their message out,” Bryant said.
Braddy declined to comment on who he voted for in the local races.
“I think there’s an opportunity that the voters have to have some semblance of balance,” he said. “If only one wing is on the plane, it’s going to spin out of control and crash, and I think we are in danger of that. I hope to some degree that we’ll have some type of voice that at least offers a different viewpoint from time to time, tries to articulate a conservative message. My fear is we'll get more of the same.”
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