Early voting begins Saturday

11 candidates vying for two City Commission seats, and don't forget GOP presidential primary


Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 at 5:32 p.m.

East Gainesville voters will decide who the next Gainesville city commissioner of District 1 will be and they will help to determine who will fill the seat of the next At-Large commissioner.

Facts

EARLY VOTING

What: Vote early in the Republican presidential preference primary election and the city of Gainesville election, which takes place Jan. 31.

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Jan. 28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 23-27.

Where: County Administration Building, 12 SE 1st St.; Millhopper Branch Library, 3145 NW 43rd St., and Tower Road Branch Library, 3020 SW 75th St.

Miscellaneous: Florida Law requires voters to present a photo and signature ID.

Information: Call 352-374-5252 or visit www.votealachua.com.

The Gainesville city election will take place from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Jan. 31, along with the Republican Presidential Primary in Florida.

And, once again, voters can cast their votes beforehand during early voting, which begins Saturday and will be held from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the County Administration Building, 12 SE 1st St.; Millhopper Branch Library, 3145 NW 43rd St., and Tower Road Branch Library, 3020 SW 75th St. Other hours and days are: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday and Jan. 28 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 23-27.

"Historically for these types of elections, we get 25-30 percent turnout," said Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter. She also said because there are so many candidates in the City Commission races, "there is a candidate for everybody to come out and vote for."

District 1

Below are the three candidates seeking the District 1 seat being vacated by Commissioner Scherwin Henry, who has reached his term limit.

* Armando Grundy, 32 and a Democrat, works in retail in Gainesville and has been active in local politics for the past several years.

He was appointed to the Alachua County Charter Review Commission in 2009 and his advocacy for longer hours for bus routes in east Gainesville was influential in getting the Regional Transit System to extend the hours of Route 11 in east Gainesville.

Grundy's campaign platform includes strengthening economic development in east Gainesville, especially along the NE Waldo Road corridor, by working hard to move Plan East Gainesville, a blueprint for economic development in east Gainesville, from the "conversation" to the "implementation" stage.

He has been endorsed by Henry and the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County, or 4As. For more information, visit www.vote4armando.com.

* Yvonne Hinson-Rawls, 64 and a Democrat, is a native of southeast Gainesville. She attended Williams Elementary School and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1965 before graduating from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in education in 1971 and a master's degree in education in 1972. She is a retired educator who completed her career as principal of an elementary school in Miami. Hinson-Rawls said one of her top priorities, if elected, will be to find ways to get young black men engaged in society. She also said she would try to lead the commission to form a partnership with the School Board to create more vocational training opportunities for students.

She has received endorsements from the Alachua County Young Democrats, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 67, Gainesville Professional Firefighters IAFF Local No. 2157, Human Rights Campaign of North Central Florida, The Stonewall Democrats of Alachua County and University of Florida College Democrats. For more information, visit www.yvonnehinsonrawls.com.

* Ray Washington, 56 and a Democrat, is a Gainesville attorney who got into the race to bring the biomass plant issue to the forefront of the minds of voters in District 1. Washington believes the construction of the GRU biomass plant should be stopped because, among other reasons, it is going to increase energy rates, which he believes will have a negative impact on economic development in east Gainesville because prospective developers will choose to invest in areas where energy rates are lower.

He has been endorsed by the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors. For more information, visit www.voteraywashington.com.

At-Large

Below are the candidates seeking the At-Large seat being vacated by Commissioner Jeannine Mastrodicasa, who also has reached her term limit:

* Dejeon Cain, 28 and a Democrat, is a police service technician at the University of Florida Police Department. Cain said his top priority is to help bring more jobs to Gainesville.

"We've got to get more jobs here, especially in east Gainesville," said Cain, a 2003 Gainesville High School graduate who grew up in east Gainesville. For more information, visit www.caincampaign2012.com.

* James Ingle, 38 and a Democrat, is a local electrician who ran for the Gainesville City Commission District 2 seat in March 2011. He received 10.93 percent of the vote.

He said his top two priorities are creating better paying jobs in the city and giving more city contracts to companies that hire local workers.

He has been endorsed by the Central Labor Council of North Central Florida, local chapter of the National Organization for Women and The Iquana, a local publication. For more information, visit www.electjamesingle.com.

* Donna Lutz, 66 and a Republican, is a local Realtor who has been a flight attendant, school teacher and union leader during her professional career. She is running to be a voice for the people and to get people "more involved in the future of Gainesville." She has served on several local government advisory boards and is encouraged by the number of organizations that exist to help the impoverished. "The more we help each other, the better off our community will be," Lutz said. For more information, visit www.electdonnalutz.com.

* Darlene Pifalo, 69 and a Republican, is a local Realtor who has spent five years on the state Affordable Housing Study Commission. She said creating jobs in Gainesville is her top priority.

"We need more jobs in all of Gainesville, especially east Gainesville, and the way to do that is to cut regulations for people trying to grow their businesses," Pifalo said. For more information, visit www.electdarlene.com.

* Lauren Poe, 40 and a Democrat, is an associate professor at Santa Fe College who lost his District 2 seat on the commission last April when he was defeated by Todd Chase in a run-off election. Speaking during his opening statements at the 4As forum late last year, Poe said the city needs to "broaden and diversify" its economic base. He also said a lot of investment has been made in the infrastructure in east Gainesville, something that should facilitate getting developers to invest in the area.

He has been endorsed by the UF College Democrats, Human Rights Council of North Central Florida and Gainesville Professional Firefighters IAFF Local No. 2157.

* Richard Selwach, 49 and a Republican, is the owner of Best Pawn & Jewelry and has run for the City Commission several times in the past. He ran for an at-large seat in 2009 and 2011, receiving 6.18 percent and 2.70 percent of the vote, respectively. In 2010, he received 4.35 percent of the vote in his bid to become mayor.

During the 4As forum late last year, Selwach said he has an east Gainesville empowerment plan that includes a vocational training program. For more information, visit www.voteselwach.com.

* Nathan Skop, 44 and a Republican, is a local attorney and former state utility regulator. He top two priorities are addressing the possible GRU rate increases associated with the biomass plant and creating better paying jobs.

He has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 67. For more information, visit www.vote4skop.com.

* Mark Venzke, 54 and not affiliated with a party, is a former cab driver who has lived in Gainesville for the past 10 years. His top priorities are to chart an energy future for Gainesville that is consistent with the values of the residents of Gainesville and to partner with other communities in the U.S. to pressure the federal government to clean up Federal Superfund sites like Cabot Koppers in northwest Gainesville, a former wood-processing plant whose soil is contaminated with wood-treating chemicals.

If needed, a run-off election will be held Feb. 28.

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