Scherwin Henry enters mayor's race
Published: Friday, December 21, 2012 at 7:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 21, 2012 at 7:13 p.m.
Standing on the steps of City Hall, former Gainesville City Commissioner Scherwin Henry launched a campaign for mayor on Friday afternoon.
Henry spoke of his lifelong ties to his hometown — a city he loves but sees as a community of haves and have-nots.
“As a little boy and eventually as a young man growing up in Gainesville, I realized the city of Gainesville was a tale of two cities,” he said. “One city was a city that experienced a wealth of economic growth and a great quality of life. The other one was a city that experienced just the opposite, minimal to no economic prosperity and lesser quality of life.”
He said that prompted him to launch a campaign for City Commission in 2000. Henry lost that year but was elected as the District 1 commissioner in 2006 and re-elected in 2009. He left the City Commission due to term limits earlier this year.
On Friday, Henry spoke of progress in east Gainesville and across the district during his time in office. He pointed to the continued development of Cone Park, the new library planned there, new housing in the Porters neighborhood, the development of the Lincoln Estates neighborhood and the fact that the district will soon have two Walmart Supercenters.
His campaign for mayor, he said, would focus on economic development, the need for better bus service in areas of the city with the most need and “accessibility and accountability.”
“I will be accessible and I’m not afraid to be held accountable,” he said.
Asked about those comments after his announcement, Henry said he felt there was a negative change to the commission’s interaction with the public during his second term.
“I felt a disconnect between the City Commission and the citizens,” he said. “Every meeting, it seemed the angst and agitation seemed to grow because the citizens felt the City Commission was not being open or not being accessible. They felt they were not getting answers to some of their questions about city government.”
Henry, 60, is a senior biological scientist at the University of Florida Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research.
He is the sixth candidate to enter the mayor’s race. The current candidates are incumbent Mayor Craig Lowe; Pete Johnson, a member of the city Plan Board and former member of the Gainesville-Alachua County Regional Airport Authority board; Mark Venzke, who ran for City Commission in 2012; barber shop owner Edward Earl Young, and Donald E. Shepherd Sr.