Susan Baird will not seek re-election to Alachua County Commission
Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 11:52 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 11:52 a.m.
County Commissioner Susan Baird will not seek re-election in November, saying instead that she plans to focus on her work and family in the coming years.
In an announcement she emailed to The Sun late Wednesday night, Baird discussed her decision not to contend for a second term on the commission and reflected on her time in office.
"As a single mom with a daughter entering her formative years of high school and a demanding schedule in my work life, I need to step away from elective office," she wrote.
Her daughter, Brittany, will start high school next year, and Baird told The Sun that's where her focus needs to be.
"So I only have her for four more years, and it's a real challenge because I love the county and I know that a lot of people were thrilled that I was the voice of the people," she said. "But for right now, these next four years, I have a priority."
Although she won't run for re-election this year, that doesn't mean she's closing the door on public office forever. Four years from now when her daughter is in college, it might be a different situation, she said.
Baird, who is a real estate broker with Bosshardt Realty Services, said she ran in 2010 because she saw a commission that adhered to a narrow political agenda and wasn't listening to the needs of regular residents dealing with a tough economy, she wrote in her announcement.
In her time in office, she counted the commission's efforts to keep government spending in line and draw renewed attention to the county's road infrastructure among the things of which she was most proud.
She also noted her efforts to be a voice for the roughly 30 percent of Gainesville Regional Utilities customers who aren't represented by the City Commission, which governs the utility, because they live outside the city limits.
"Although all of my goals were not accomplished, I've fought hard, listened to the people and provided a voice for those left behind by the so-called progressive agenda," she wrote.
She may not always be influential among her fellow commissioners, she said, but she has at least been able to bring some balance to their discussions.
"The one thing I've always heard from my supporters or from citizens is ‘Thank you for voicing my thoughts up there,' and that's all you can do. I'm only one of five," she said.
Baird said that for the remainder of her term, she will continue to be that voice and be as much of an influence as she can.
"You know, everything is so vital to the county. Every decision the Board of County Commissioners makes affects something in the county at all levels, whether it be the minor decisions or the major decisions," she said.
Two of the bigger issues she will continue to focus on will be the ongoing community discussion regarding GRU and the biomass plant, and the county's plan to place a new transportation sales tax referendum to fund road repairs and other projects on the November ballot.
Although she is withdrawing from the political arena, Baird said she plans to continue promoting conservative candidates who care about fiscal responsibility as though she were the one running.
Stafford Jones, chairman of the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee, told The Sun he and the local Republican Party are thankful for Baird's leadership.
"She took a shot at something that nobody thought could happen, and she won and she made a difference," he said.
Baird is the sole Republican on the County Commission at the moment, but Republican and former Hawthorne Mayor John Martin registered Thursday morning to run for her District 4 seat, according to the Supervisor of Elections Office.
Democrats Ken Cornell, a real estate broker and Baird's co-worker, and Kevin Thorpe, a pastor, are also running for the District 4 commission seat.
Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.