Longtime district resident Sheryl Eddie makes run for City Commission


Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.

Active volunteering and working for nonprofit organizations, Gainesville resident Sheryl Eddie now is making her first run for elected office, campaigning for the District 2 seat on the City Commission.

Eddie says she feels she would bring increased civility to the sometimes-contentious discourse at City Hall.

“My main reason for running is that everything seems to have grown so polarized,” she said. “When you go to a commission meeting, the tone just isn't good. There are zingers going back and forth. There needs to be people who know how to communicate and work with people.”

Eddie, 48, has lived in Gainesville for 25 years, the past 15 in District 2. She said she knows the area and its neighborhoods well. She said she feels some areas, such as the Pine Ridge apartment complex, need additional attention from the city to address issues with quality of life, living conditions and crime.

Pine Ridge was formerly in District 1, but the redistricting process after the 2010 census placed it in District 2. Prior to redistricting, District 1 Commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls started a community task force focused on that neighborhood.

Hinson-Rawls said that group did lead to some city-funded improvements, including a tot lot, lighting improvements, sidewalk construction and increased police and code enforcement presence. Hinson-Rawls said she has since turned over the committee to District 2 incumbent Todd Chase.

Eddie said city officials need to be “pounding the pavement” in the Stephen Foster neighborhood to address resident concerns as the remediation of the Koppers Superfund site and contaminated off-site yards progresses. Eddie currently works as the director of community outreach, public relations and development for the Early Learning Coalition of Alachua County, which offers subsidized child care to the working poor.

She said she sees how many residents whom the Early Learning Coalition serves rely on the city's bus system to get around town and that service on some routes needs to improve to meet their needs.

“It should not take an hour to get from Southwest 13th Street to Northwest 13th Street,” Eddie said.

On utility issues, Eddie says she opposes the bill state Rep. Keith Perry has filed to require a proxy vote of Gainesville Regional Utilities account holders to determine if the City Commission should cede decision-making authority to an appointed board. Under the current draft, the governor would appoint three members of that board.

“We don't need appointees,” Eddie said. “We need elected officials.”

Eddie said she believed the proposed legislation would erode the rights of municipal government since the state would require the vote and the governor would have authority in determining who some of the decision-makers are for the city-owned utility. She said she also felt Perry's bill steps on the rights of city voters, since those who do not have a GRU account in their name will not be able to cast a vote while out-of-city or out-of-state companies with accounts will.

Eddie said the city does need to work to address the issue of high electric rates that have increased with the biomass plant coming online.

She said city officials and the community need to find a balance between “affordable electric rates” and “progressive, sustainable energy sources.”

Through Dec. 31, Eddie's campaign had $520 in contributions, including $300 of her own money.

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