City election, Tuesday, March 16: Our recommendations

by Joe Courter

The City of Gainesville is having an election for an at-large seat and a district seat. Early voting begins March 5, election day is March 16. 

For the at-large seat, Gail Johnson is seeking re-election and we strongly endorse her bid to stay in office. Gail grew up in Gainesville and graduated from UF. After a brief stay in Brooklyn, NY, she returned home and got involved in our community. 

From the City of Gainesville website: “She is on the board of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, a member of Local Progress, a founding member of the Local Progress Florida Organizing team, a governor at the Library Governing Board and member of the Metropolitan Transportation and Planning Organization. She is the chair of the Race and Equity Subcommittee at the City of Gainesville, and serves on several committees for the National League of Cities, including the Race, Equity and Leadership Council, Women in Municipal Government and the Black Caucus. She formerly served on the Tourism Development Council and the Alachua County League of Cities.

“She is passionate about social justice, food justice, carceral injustice and reproductive justice. She supports efforts in the city for achieving racial and gender equity, both in city government and the community at large.”

She has one opponent who is not campaigning and has said he is not interested in getting votes. We guess he just did not want her to not have an opponent. But please DO vote for Gail if you live in the City of Gainesville.

The District One race features two women with long Gainesville ties and who have been active in advocacy for the Eastside of Gainesville.

Incumbent Gigi Simmons has a long record of involvement even prior to her successful run for Commissioner in 2018, neighborhood organizing in Porters Community and with various other community organizations and efforts. 

Challenger Desmon Duncan-Walker and Gigi Simmons share very similar goals for better internet, healthcare, employment and housing opportunities, and better grocery options on the Eastside. 

Duncan-Walker came into prominence last year by founding the Gainesville Alliance for Equitable Development, which organized to fight the proposed high-rise student oriented housing slated to be built in the Seminary Lane/NW 5th Avenue area, a historically Black neighborhood. 

Simmons has a solid campaign going, getting endorsement from the Central Labor Council, the Human Right Campaign, and the Gainesville Sun. (The Feb. 21 Sun has articles from both candidates.) 

But there are a lot folks feeling more needs to be done to stand up to developers and provide a dissident voice on the current Commission, and give real support to actual Eastside programs, and not just lip service. We are fortunate to have a City where two strong women such as these are on the ballot. 

She’s definitely an underdog, but if you want to shake things up, vote for Desmon Duncan-Walker.

Additionally, both the League of Women Voters and the Alachua County Labor Coalition had panel discussions with the candidates that are available on their Facebook pages.

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