City election runoff, Jan. 25: Vote Chestnut

by Joe Courter

Oh well, with ranked choice voting this would all have been done, but so it goes. 

The Nov. 16 special election for the seat on the City Commission abandoned by Gail Walker came down to a runoff between Cynthia Chestnut and Matt Howland. 

Early voting for the seat will take place on Jan. 21 and 22, and Election Day is Tuesday, Jan. 25.  

We see all the rapid development in town, displacing familiar blocks with six-story boxes at a shocking rate. Neighborhoods are being encroached, even trampled with new multi-residential buildings. This is the path the current commission has set us on. 

Gail stepped away out of stress and concern that she was a cog in something that was ignoring or paying lip service to issues she felt deeply about. She felt she could do better outside the system. 

So we are here at the choice we were at in November, with the lesser candidates winnowed out. Cynthia has that longer view of Gainesville, its history, its struggles, and power dynamics. She knows how productive governing should take place. 

Her opponent is an unknown in so many ways. Contrary to his signs, we DON’T know Matt, and nothing has changed our opinion since November. In fact, I’ll stick with what I said in the November/December Iguana, and emphasize that in a runoff, often with lower turnout, your vote is even more important. 

With Cynthia, you get a known person with a long track record. This is good and not so good. With Matt you get a new person with no track record in elected office, or for that matter, that much life experience. This can be good and not so good, too, but you find out later.

I can’t get past the feeling that a seasoned Black woman who knows this community should be the replacement for Gail Johnson, for the needed perspective she would bring. But whichever person gets the seat, it is not an easy time to move into it. 

Please vote Chestnut. D

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