Democrats elected to commission
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 2:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 2:32 p.m.
Alachua County citizens wielded the power of the vote and chose three Democratic candidates to serve on the Alachua County Commission.
The winners are incumbent Mike Byerly of District 1, Robert "Hutch" Hutchinson of District 3 and Charles S. "Chuck" Chestnut IV of District 5.
The newly elected commissioners celebrated with supporters, family and friends at the former 2nd Ave. Oyster House in downtown Gainesville.
Election results reflect all 63 county precints reporting, along with early voting tallies and absentee ballots counted.
In the District 1 race, Byerly won a fourth term, defeating Republican John Martin with 62,169 votes or 55.62 percent of the votes. Martin, 51, a businessman who served 13 years on the Hawthorne City Commission, received 49,614 votes or 44.38 percent of the votes.
Byerly said Alachua County residents demonstrated with their vote that they want a progressive accountable county government. "I'm grateful to everyone who helped," Byerly said. I thank the people of Alachua County for trusting me with another term. I'll do my best to live up to that trust."
Byerly, 48, owns and manages rental property. He supports prudent reductions of the county's budget to match the decline in property values due to the slow economy. He said law enforcement, fire and transportation are top priorities, but the environment and assistance to the poor are also important.
He supports crime prevention programs, including after-school programs, substance abuse programs, mental health counseling and basic assistance for homeless citizens. He supports impact fees on new development to cover the cost of providing new public infrastructure and easing the burden on taxpayers.
In the District 3 race, Hutchinson defeated Jean Calderwood with 64,579 votes or 58.02 percent of the votes cast. Calderwood, who is retired and served for seven years on the Alachua City Commission, received 46,480 votes, or 41.76 percent, of the votes.
"It's a beautiful night for Democrats in Alachua County," said Hutch, adding that selecting a new county manager will determine much of the direction the county will take.
Hutchinson, 59, is executive director of the Alachua Conservation Trust and a former Alachua County commissioner. His priorities are the environment and water protection. He supports working to streamline county codes and ordinances to make local government less burdensome on people and businesses. He also supports funding social services, including substance abuse programs, mental health counseling, and alternatives to jail.
In the District 5 race, Chestnut defeated Dean Cheshire with 60,087 votes or 53.74 percent of the votes cast. Cheshire, 30, co-founder of 10VOX Entertainment, an Internet company, received 47,929 votes or 42.87 percent of the votes.
Chestnut, 50, manager of Chestnut Funeral Home, served three terms as a member of the Florida House and six years as a Gainesville city commissioner. His main concern is creating jobs. He supports streamlining the permit process for businesses and cutting impact fees in half to attract businesses
He does not support cutting funds for the Community Agency Partnership Program, or CAPP, which supports local organizations, and he said the environment is a key issue. He also supports protecting the county's Wild Spaces and Public Places initiative and the Alachua County Forever Program for land conservation.
Chestnut said the concerns resonated with the voters. "Job creation and a balanced budget that meets all the needs, protecting the environment and protecting human capital — seniors, veterans, children and families," Chestnut said.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.