Long says he’ll continue to help east Gainesville

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 3:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 3:32 p.m.

Although Rodney Long is beginning a new phase of his life, his commitment to seeing east Gainesville and eastern Alachua County grow and prosper will remain the same, albeit with an enhanced ability to make things happen with the skills he has developed after more than 20 years as a public servant.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Long said he decided to retire from the Alachua County Commission in the middle of last month after much prayer and consultation with the Lord. Long said he indicated earlier in 2011 when he announced his plans to retire that he did not know if he would complete his term.

He said he retired last month "because the spirit had confirmed to me that it was time for me to leave and go on with the next phase of my life. I know to some it was an abrupt decision, but it was the right decision for me."

Long emphasized that this new phase of his life is not retirement at all.

"I want people to know that I am not retiring," said Long, who turned 55 on Dec. 29. "I am transitioning to reposition to move forward. That is what I am doing."

Long said his immediate plans involve becoming an evangelist and continuing to be "a voice and advocate for those who are voiceless." He said first and foremost, he will be working with outreach programs at his church, Showers of Blessings Harvest Center in southeast Gainesville, and his pastor, Apostle Willie L. King.

Long, owner of Rodney Long Bail Bonds Agency and Rodney Long Realty Service in northeast Gainesville, said he will be establishing a foundation so he can use the skills God has blessed him to develop during his years as a public servant. He said he also will be going to work as a political consultant to help train people interested in politics and he is going to open a charter school that will have an emphasis on black males who are failing in the Alachua County public school system. Long said he will spend a lot of time working to ensure the implementation of Plan East Gainesville, a blueprint for change and development in east Gainesville.

"As the architect of Plan East Gainesville, I certainly will be instrumental in working with that public, private partnership trying to find investors that will be willing now to come in and assist the public sector in moving forward and realizing those goals that are in Plan East Gainesville, which includes downtown Gainesville, the eastern part of the city and the eastern part of the county," Long said.

Evelyn Foxx, president of the Alachua County branch of the NAACP, said she is optimistic about the impact Long will have on the implementation of Plan East Gainesville and the development of east Gainesville in general, now that he is no longer in public office.

"I think not only myself, but the entire community, is looking forward to that," Foxx said. "After all, he is the author of it (Plan East Gainesville) and now that he is retired from the County Commission, he has the time to see the implementation of the plan, especially as it relates to economic development."

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