by Joe Courter
Tuesday, August 18, will be election day for the party primaries and non-partisan races in Alachua County leading up to the November 3 national election.
For the party races, you will need to be a registered Democrat to have a voice; if you are not, you can register as a Democrat on or before July 20. You can always change it back later … that’s the way it works here in Florida.
Early voting will begin August 3; details can be found on page 20.
U.S. Congress Dist. 3 is the soon-to-be ex-Yoho seat (good riddance!). There are a slew of Republicans running on their primary ballot. I will not waste ink on them, other than perhaps it will be entertaining to see how acrimonious they get. There are three Democrats running: Adam Christensen, Phillip Dodds and Tom Wells. The best candidate to try and capture this heavily gerrymandered seat is Christensen, a political newcomer with a background in fraud testing and experience in company start-ups, and a candidate who could hold his own against what will be a tough race.
Eastside Alachua County has a State House race with Democrats Yvonne Hayes Hinson and Rodney Long running for District 20. There are no other candidates, so the winner here wins. Both are longtime Gainesville residents and veterans of the City Commission, and have a lot of life experience. No clear choice here.
Property Appraiser has five candidates running, some of them self-funding to a big degree, and most already working in that office. We like Ayesha Soloman, who is a younger and more grassroots candidate, though very well versed in all the aspects of the job, and we hope she does well enough to make it to the perfunctory November final vote versus a write-in candidate.
The Sheriff’s race will be a big one to watch, with longtime Sheriff Sadie Darnell being challenged by Clovis Watson. There are many disconcerting things in Darnell’s record, especially with her running of the jail, questionable hiring, and an infatuation with more and more stuff, including the infernal helicopter. Clovis seems to have really grown and benefited from his time in Tallahassee, and we look forward to a change in the sheriff’s office.
County Commission has District 1 incumbent Mike Byerly facing Mary Alford, a likewise strong environmentalist who got in early and perhaps thought Mike was not going to seek re-election. Mike is sharp and principled, and we support his return to the Commission.
County Commission District 3 has Anna Prizzia running for Robert Hutchinson’s old seat. She could be a good replacement for Hutch, but also good is Jason Stafford. A late-declared candidate is Kevin Thorpe, who ran last time with huge monetary backing from Weyerhaeuser/Plum Creek. We say vote Anna and get another woman’s voice on the Commission.
School Board District 2 has Khanh-Lien Banko versus Diyonne McGraw running to replace Eileen Roy. Both have been involved with the School Board and education issues, but based on recent issues we lean toward McGraw. There’s been a number of controversies affecting the Black community in recent years, and there is a need to tip the power on the School Board. Her opponent, Banko, has positives to offer, but this is a time for change.
School Board District 4 has Leanetta McNealy looking to retain her seat against Sande Calkins. We would definitely like to see Leanetta retain her seat; as a former Principal she knows education, and is devoted to get some important things done. There are some outstanding needs to be addressed and lost time to be made up for.