by Jenn Powell, Candidate for Gainesville City Commission At-Large
I’ve enjoyed raising my family in Gainesville. But let’s face it, Orlando and Jacksonville are starting to creep in.
Things are moving fast, and a handful are getting rich in the process. While on the one hand Gainesville champions diversity, sanctuary, and inclusion, our City Commission is also very busy promoting growth that favors out of town developers and large corporations.
The way we grow must serve working people, the environment, and our future generations of family, friends, and visitors too. We need progressive leadership that takes initiative and makes policy, not a corporate caretaker government.
For almost three years now, my opponent hasn’t done much of anything to try and improve the lives of our residents. Candidate forum after candidate forum during this election she says she’s just spent three years learning how government works and now wants an opportunity to learn more. This is not a Community education course, these are our lives.
My opponent says “the majority of working people are doing fine” in Gainesville. But our high inequality, lack of equal access to resources, and racial tensions define a tale of two cities, not of college-town bliss.
Affordable housing is almost entirely non-existent. We have bright and powerful educational institutions in our midst, but our Commission has followed, instead of forced, the issue of their greater sharing of our burdens.
Claiming things are fine when your constituents are struggling is not progressivism, that’s closing the door behind you.
We can rebuild, rehabilitate, and restore affordability in existing neighborhoods by moving corporate welfare into community programs. We can demand more of UF, which is after all a public institution. And we are the public.
This is not a pretty election, and these are not easy issues, because this is not just a pretty town. Building Depot Park and a shiny new Police Station do not excuse us from taking a walk through hard neighborhoods with the people that make this town work.
As I have campaigned on city buses, in grocery stores, and at community centers, I choose to believe it can be done better.
I serve on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for Community Development and the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Advisory Board for the City of Gainesville. Their public meetings take place at difficult hours when citizens who work full time cannot attend.
As Commissioner I will more actively include everyone in decisions about growth.
Gainesville has a nice Commissioner. We need an a more active one, someone who answers every email, and who explains contracts, finances, and services in plain language to the public.
I honor my Sierra Club and North Central Florida Labor Council endorsements by being an environmentalist who speaks the language of working people, and a working person who defends our environment.
I promise to listen, study, explain, communicate, and lead. I need your vote, and I need your promise to hold me and others accountable.
If you want to get involved, call or text me at 352-215-2243, or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.