In late February 2017, President Donald Trump’s war with the media approached a boiling point when Sean Spicer cancelled the traditional on-camera daily briefing for an off-camera press conference. In a telling sign of authoritarianism, “fake news” organizations like the New York Times and the BCC were not invited (but Breitbart was). As the White House takes steps to limit media access, our fatigue continues to increase with yet another tweet, another executive order or another Facebook event calling for protest.

But if Drumpf has got you down, we recommend taking a look at Gainesville’s local elections. There’s a lot to be excited (and relieved) about. This year, the Gainesville Sun held its candidate debates over Facebook Live (two of them can be watched here and here), a huge step in improving transparency and media access in our city. There’s an early voting site in East Gainesville and nearly all the candidates on the ballot acknowledge a need to improve our transportation system so that it benefits everyone.

Don’t let fatigue prevent you from engaging in local politics. From North Florida’s first out-lesbian in office to a first-generation Latino millennial, we have some great choices this election cycle that just might stand a chance at curing your pessimism.

Early voting began on March 6th and goes to March 11th. You can vote early at the Supervisor of Elections office, the Millhopper Branch Library and the Cone Park Library.

Election Day is Tuesday, March 14th. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can find your polling location here.

Illustrations by our assistant art director, Ingrid Wu.

Presenting: Your Esteemed Candidates


Gainesville City Commission At-Large 2

Jenn Powell

A bookkeeper and working mother-of-four, Jenn Powell decided to run for city commission after organizing for the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Powell was part of the Bern Unit, which brought Sanders to Gainesville in 2016, and has continued her activism with Alachua County Revolution. She served on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for Community Development and the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. Following Bernie’s example, she is only accepting campaign contributions from individuals or local businesses. Organizer with Alachua County Revolution.

  • Believes the biggest issue facing the city commission over the next three years will be GRU’s proposed purchase of a local biomass energy
  • Wants more working-people on the city commission who can plainly describe the trade-offs between renewable energy and deals with energy companies
  • Advocates for more accessible planning meetings by changing the times and locations so that “citizens who work full-time can attend.”
  • Website with her detailed platform.
  • Facebook page
  • Press release announcing candidacy.
  • Organized anti-Sabal Trail protests with Alachua County Revolution.
  • Gainesville Sun letter to the editor, which calls her an “effective political activist for social change.”  
  • Endorsed by the North Central Florida Central Labor Council and the Sierra Club
  • Endorsed by the Gainesville Iguana and wrote a candidate statement for the March 2017 edition
  • She described her “working-class perspective” in a special to the Gainesville Sun


Helen Warren

Elected to the city commission in 2014, incumbent Helen Warren is running for her second term. She moved to Gainesville in 1975 to attend the University of Florida, where she received a BA in Sociology and an M. Ed. in post-secondary education. She lived in Phoenix, Arizona, and St. Petersburg before returning to Gainesville in 2002 to work as a realtor. She was the president of the Alachua Audubon Society from 2009 to 2013 and is a member of the Empowerment Center Oversight Advisory Board, which oversees the homeless shelters at Dignity Village and GRACE Marketplace.

  • Tentatively voted to increase the minimum wage for city workers. Said she wanted to make sure all workers, not just those on the end of the pay scale, saw their wages rise.
  • The first out-lesbian city official elected to office in North Florida.
  • Was part of the creation of Gainesville’s Utility Advisory Board, which oversees GRU
  • Wants to seek partnerships with landlords to get low-income residents into affordable housing.
  • Called the land swap deal between Alachua County and Weyerhaeuser, which bought Plum Creek last year, “one of the most exciting things to happen in east Gainesville in a long time.”  
  • Told WUFT that she got involved with city government through an interest in GRU’s relationship with GREC
  • Website, where she lists economic growth, the environment and social justice as her top issues
  • Facebook page
  • Discussed her key issues with the Gainesville Sun
  • Endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce
  • Received a 100 percent on Equality Florida Action PAC’s candidate questionnaire.
  • Endorsed by Gainesville Citizens for Active Transport
  • Gainesville Sun Endorsement
  • The only candidate endorsed by the African American Accountability Alliance this cycle


Gainesville City Commission District 2

Am I in this district?

Perry Clawson

A Gainesville resident for six years, Perry Clawson, believes he has the “contracts background” to renegotiate a new biomass deal with GRU. He graduated from West Point and is a retired Army colonel and Purple Heart recipient. Formerly a small business owner, Clawson hopes that in addition to negotiating contracts, he can help bring more jobs to Gainesville.

  • Wants to focus on helping the elderly get fair transportation assistance
  • Protested the University of Florida’s previously suspended Zeta Beta Tau fraternity in 2015 after members were accused of mistreating veterans on their spring break
  • Claims he was victim of a “smear campaign” after copies of charges for battery, larceny, domestic violence and driving while intoxicated were distributed around the city (a majority of the cases were dismissed)
  • Called the 30-year biomass contract between GREC and GRU a “financial disaster”
  • His website which has no clear issues or stances
  • Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Has a pending South Carolina lawsuit where he is accused of stabbing a man
  • Claims he was victim of a “smear campaign” after copies of his arrest records for issues including battery, larceny, domestic violence and driving while intoxicated were distributed around the city

Sheryl Eddie

Sheryl Eddie graduated with a bachelor’s in communication and media from Florida State University, but said Gainesville’s passion and energy led her to make a home in Gator Country. Eddie has lived in Gainesville for 27 years and has spent the last seven advocating for early childhood education. She is currently the president of the Democratic Women’s Club of Alachua County.

  • Ran for city commission district two in 2014
  • Told the Gainesville Sun in 2014 that the city needs to be “pounding the pavement” in the Stephen Foster neighborhood to address the contamination of the Koppers Superfund site
  • Concerned that non-student Gainesville residents receive less than half of RTS services and wants to improve the covers and benches at bus stops
  • Believes that East Gainesville lacks natural gas infrastructure and is disproportionately affected by utility rates
  • Proposes increasing street light coverage as a way to address neighborhood crime
  • Website, with an extensive list of local supporters and detailed explanation of positions
  • Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • WGFL coverage of her 2014 campaign
  • Told WCJB in 2016 that women “get it done.”
  • Gainesville Sun op-ed
  • Endorsed by the Gainesville Sun, which cited her experience in childhood education
  • Endorsed by the Democratic Women’s Club of Florida


Harvey Ward Jr.

A Gainesville native, graduating from Eastside High and completeing his schooling at Santa Fe College and the University of Florida, Harvey Ward Jr. says he’s running because he “really love[s] Gainesville.” He currently work as the Executive Director of Holy Trinity Episcopal Foundation and previously worked at WUFT TV/FM.

  • His biggest concern is Gainesville’s internet; wants to build a stronger fiber optic network and offer internet service that can be competitive in price and service
  • Wants to expand RTS routes and create safer bike lanes
  • Supported the Wild Spaces Public Places and One Mill for Schools initiatives
  • Believes there is more to do about eliminating the city’s gender-pay gap
  • Endorsed by Equality Florida Action PAC, The North Central Florida Human Rights Campaign, UF College Democrats, THe Sierra Club
  • Website, Facebook, Twitter
  • His op-ed in the Gainesville Sun
  • On several boards like the Early Learning Coalition, ElderCare and Friends of Grace Marketplace
  • Previously ran for county commission in 2014 and lost to Lee Pinkoson

Gainesville City Commission District 3

Am I in this district?

David Arreola

Born and raised in Gainesville to parents who immigrated from Mexico, David hopes to become the youngest city commissioner at 26 years old. He graduated from St. Leo University with an M.B.A. in 2015. He currently works as the Director of Sales Operations & Marketing for  21st Century Communications and also is acting president of Alachua County Young Democrats.

  • Plans to challenge GRU’s rising energy bills and believes that our future is a transition to more renewable energy and cost-efficient purchase agreements
  • Committed to protecting Gainesville’s historic neighborhoods and namely the historic tree canopies
  • Wants to fund the Gainesville Parks Master Plan to create more public parks and recreation centers
  • Supports local business growth as a means to expand Gainesville’s economy
  • Calls the 352 Arts Roadmap “brilliant
  • Advocates for expanding RTS East/West route to under-served populations of  the city
  • Website, Facebook page and LinkedIn
  • Opinion piece for the Gainesville Sun while covering the DNC as a Hilary Clinton delegate
  • Managed Adrian Hayes-Santos’ successful campaign for Gainesville City Commission District 4 last year
  • A comprehensive comparison of his and his opponent’s policy ideas from the Gainesville Sun
  • Endorsed by the Gainesville Iguana
  • Endorsed by the Sierra Club

Craig Carter

A Gainesville resident since 1989, Craig Carter is a business owner of Craig Carter Mobility and a realtor for Coldwell Banker and running for his second term as city commissioner. He is a member of boards throughout the city, like the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Equal Opportunity Committee and the Transportation Disadvantaged Board.

  • Voted against coal mountain top removal
  • Supports Wild Spaces Public Places tax
  • Moved motion to increase workers pay to $12.25
  • Has hosted “thousands” of students at his house for game-day and socials as a volunteer for  UF campus ministry Reformed University Fellowship
  • Ethics complaint was filed against him, former Mayor Ed Braddy and commissioner Todd Chase for using their private email to discuss an alcohol ordinance
  • Facebook and LinkedIn
  • His property listings as a realtor
  • Endorsed by former mayor, Ed Braddy
  • Endorsed by Gainesville Regional Businesses
  • Absent from a forum for commissioner candidates held by UF students
  • Op-ed for the Gainesville Sun
  • Gainesville Sun interview with candidates display their personalities