Candidate gets early start for County Commission seat
Published: Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 5:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 5:34 p.m.
Alachua County native Harvey Ward Jr., a Democrat, has registered to run in 2014 for the Alachua County Commission’s District 2 seat, which is now held by longtime commissioner and fellow Democrat Lee Pinkoson.
Ward, 45, was born and raised in Alachua County and is a graduate of Eastside High School, Santa Fe College and the University of Florida. He lives with his wife, Gillian, who is an associate professor at UF, and three daughters.
He has years of experience with fundraising, having spent almost a decade working for UF-based WUFT in that capacity. He is now the executive director of the Gainesville-based Holy Trinity Episcopal Foundation, which is a job that also involves a lot of fundraising.
He has served on the board of directors for several local organizations in the past, including the North Central Florida chapter of the American Red Cross, the Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County, the Leadership Gainesville Alumni Association and the Advertising Federation of Gainesville. He was also chairman of the board of directors for ElderCare of Alachua County when it was starting the process of building a senior recreation center.
His experience in serving on those boards, he said, showed him a lot of people in this community are being left behind. Charities and nonprofits are doing everything they can to change that, he said, but government needs to take a leading role in that effort.
“We can’t afford to leave the least among us behind,” he said. “It’s time for fresh ideas and fresh leadership, and I believe I can provide those.”
The challenges the community faces today are the same ones it has dealt with for decades, according to Ward, who cited poverty in particular as a crushing problem.
Delivering quality social services that help those in need will always be his highest priority.
He suggested increasing county funding for the Community Agency Partnership Program, which gives money to local nonprofits, as a great way to increase the number of services available to residents. He also cited the importance of rethinking transportation in the county to ensure people are able to get to work and to support services.
The November 2014 election is more than a year away, so Ward plans to meet with community leaders, current and former elected officials and other residents to learn what they consider the county’s key challenges.
There is much he doesn’t know, he admitted, but he has been listening for a long time and is looking for the answers.
“I don’t want to lead from false perceptions,” he said. “I want to make sure I have actually talked to people and weighed the options before I actually step into office.”
Ward sees himself as running for the District 2 seat rather than against Pinkoson, who hasn’t yet registered his candidacy for the 2014 election.
“I think very highly of Commissioner Pinkoson,” he said. “I just believe that it’s time for new ideas and new leadership.”
Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.