2018 GENERAL ELECTIONS GUIDE – Alachua County

The Midterm Elections are happening NOW. Vote by mail ballots were sent out last week and should be in voters’ hands by the week of the October 8th (you can request or track your ballot here).

You can skip the reasoning/background and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early from Monday, October 22nd until Saturday November 3rd from 9 AM – 6 PM at:

You can also vote on election day, Tuesday November 6th from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and you can find your voting location here. I’ve changed the order of the ballot around since the bottom of the ballot needs more attention.

These are my views and in no way reflect those of any organizations that I’m associated with.

Referendums:

Constitutional Amendments:

There’s a long list of proposed amendments, which need to pass by 60% of the vote to become law. The League of Women Voters has gone through a good explanation of all 13 of these but briefly:

Amendment 1:
Grants an additional $25,000 homestead exemption for property tax. This loss of revenue would cripple local governments from being able to provide services.
VOTE NO.

Amendment 2: Would permanently cap at 10% the maximum value increase for non-homestead properties. This includes places like vacation homes,, vacant land, and office parks. This is something that is already in law but is set to expire in 2019. If it’s allowed to expire local governments would be allowed to collect taxes on the true value of these properties. VOTE NO.

Amendment 3: Restricts the expansion of gambling. I might catch flak for this as a prude, but I think gambling should be outlawed due to predatory practices exploiting people with addictions. Anything to slow it down is good to me. VOTE YES.

Amendment 4: Restore voting rights for most felons who have served their time. VOTE HELL YES.

Amendment 5:
Would require a 2/3 majority to to increase taxes. This is another way to protect reactionary tax cuts for generations.
VOTE NO.

Amendment 6: Changes victim rights and the way the courts interpret laws. Most of the rights are already in state law and the changes to the courts are problematic. VOTE NO.

Amendment 7: Supermajority requirements for raising tuition, imposing student fees, and gives death benefits to first responders. While I’m for free public education, that’s not an option and rich kids should pay right now. VOTE NO.

Amendment 8: The Supreme Court removed this from the ballot. It was a bad amendment anyway. VOTE NO.

Amendment 9: Prevents some offshore oil drilling and vaping indoors. This would only stop oil drilling 9 miles off the West/South coast and 3 miles off the East coast. No one wants to drill this close to shore because there’s no oil there. The Deepwater Horizon, which devastated beaches, was over 100 miles off the Florida coast. There is a fear that this being voted down will be a sign to that Florida doesn’t care about the environment, but I think the opposite is true. Passing a do nothing amendment will placate many people into thinking something was actually done. As far as vaping indoors, that’s douchey and can be outlawed via statute. VOTE NO.

Amendment 10: Creates a counterterrorism unit in the state and mandates a bunch of stuff on counties. We don’t need this. VOTE NO.

Amendment 11: Removes an antiquated anti-Asian law that says immigrants can’t own land. It would also allow the state legislature to apply sentencing reform on those already convicted of crimes. VOTE YES.

Amendment 12: Bans elected officials from being lobbyists while in office and for 6 years after leaving office, as well as other anti-corruption measures. A major issue with this amendment is that it’ll be very hard to change once enacted. But this is the only way to get something like this passed, since there’s no real mechanism for voters to directly pass legislation and elected officials won’t pass this themselves. John Dewey famously said that government is the shadow cast by big business.This bill wouldn’t end that relationship but would throw a wrench in it. VOTE YES.

Amendment 13:
Bans Greyhound racing. Greyhound racing is awful. Just awful.
VOTE YES.


County Referendums:

Children’s Trust of Alachua County
Would set up a special taxing district with a board who will oversee the funds. The funds would go towards postnatal care, childcare for working families, after school programs, etc. Vote yes unless you hate children.


Half-Cent Sales Surtax to Improve School Facilities

Schools in Alachua County are not doing well, and it’s mostly because of cuts from Tallahassee politicians (isn’t Senator Perry awful?). This tax would add a half cent to your sales tax and the money itself would would go to school infrastructure. Two schools in East Gainesville will be completely remodeled but every school is getting numerous projects. Vote yes on the half cent sales tax because children deserve better schools.


Municipal Referenda on Privatizing Gainesville Regional Utilities

This is one of the most important things on the ballot. It was placed here by Representative Clemons and Senator Perry. Aren’t they just the worst? Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) has a sign above its headquarters that reads “Owned by the People it Serves,” which is a problem for reactionaries. Right now GRU is controlled by elected Gainesville Commissioners and this referendum seeks to change it to an appointed, unaccountable, board. The endgame is privatization of this publicly owned utility. Since GRU is owned by us, we can move beyond profit, which is the narrow goal of privatized utilities. Gatornet, the GRU owned fiber optics network, is signed onto the Net Neutrality pledge while Cox fought against it. GRU has moved away from mountaintop removal coal, added solar feed in programs, and built a carbon neutral biomass plant, all of which cut into the profits of GRU. Vote no on the GRU referendum because people should have democratic control of our utilities. Also Keith Perry is awful and he wants this, so don’t let him have it


City of Gainesville Charter Amendment City Commission Elections and Terms of Office

This referendum is years in the making. This would move city elections from the current March/April to the August November cycle. It’s important because turnout for city elections hovers between 10% and 15% outside a presidential primary. It would also save a lot of money for the city and time for voters. Vote yes for better elections.


Local/Regional Races

County Commissioner District 2

Marihelen Wheeler is a retired union teacher, who is good on the environment and great on workers’ issues. She’ll also the only woman on the 5 member board of County Commissioners. Vote for Marihelen Wheeler because she earned it.


Justice of the Supreme Court and District Court of Appeals

It’s weird that there’s an option to recall or retain judges. The judicial branch is supposed to be outside of politics but that has changed a lot in recent years (see the successful recall of the Judge Aaron Persky in the Stanford rape case). This is the moment we live in and we should vote no on the Rick Scott Appointments.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Alan Lawson for his 2011 opinion an important LGBTQ+ issue.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Harvey Jay.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Stephanie W. Ray.

Vote yes for Brad Thomas.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Kemmerly Thomas.

Vote no for Rick Scott appointee Allen Winsor.


Circuit Judge 8th Judicial Circuit Group 8

David Robertson is a former military lawyer and current Department of Transportation chief counsel. His job is under threat at the DOT because of the large number of affairs he has had with subordinates. Obviously, he’s now working tirelessly to get the whistleblower fired.
Meanwhile Gloria Walker is the managing Attorney and Director of Litigation at 3 Rivers Legal Services which services the abused, disabled, elderly, and poor. Read her story, cry little, give her campaign a few dollars, and then go vote for her. Vote for Gloria Walker because she’s the most qualified for the job.


County Judge Group 2

I like both of the candidates for this seat. Craig DeThomasis is a local defense attorney who firm has represented people facing political persecution in Alachua County. And Meshon Rawls is a distinguished UF Law professor who has spent much of her career defending juveniles in the criminal justice system. I’ll be voting for Rawls but I will still be very happy if DeThomasis wins the set.


School Board District 3

There’s are some very vocal people who really, really dislike Gunnar Paulson. At times he can be abrasive and I understand why people would focus the perceived failures of the current school board on him. He’s been good for the teachers and paraprofessionals in many ways though. Nonetheless I understand why some people are not supporting him in this election.

What I don’t understand is why anyone is supporting April Tisher. She is a Republican who wants more cops in schools and can count anti-education Florida Senator Keith Perry and the John Birch Society as her supporters. I don’t understand how progressives could vote for a reactionary as opposed to voting for Paulson or leaving the ballot blank.


Soil and Water Conservation District Group 3

Seldom do you see an actual fascist face off against an actual socialist. But this is 2018 and we have Chris Rose II, a neo confederate jerkwad, running against comrade-in-arms Kaithleen Hernandez. Soil and Water is a nonpartisan election so you sometimes get the Green Party, Communist Party USA , Freedom Party, or the the Libertarian Party of Florida, but this is a first for me. Vote for Kaithleen Hernandez because she will slow down the big agriculture development of North Central Florida. As a bonus, you also get to not vote for a fascist.


State and Federal Races

State Senator District 8

There’s not enough negative things that can be said about the current Senator in District 8, Keith Perry. He’s tried to preempt our wage theft ordinance (spoiler: his business has been found guilty of wage theft), has kneecapped our local hiring preference which helps out young construction workers in certified apprenticeship programs (spoiler: his business benefited from this), and he recently pushed a bill that would lead to the privatization of Gainesville Regional Utilities (spoiler: his donors would benefit from the privatization). He’s pushed tax cuts that have benefited him and his rich friends, was the deciding vote on HB 7069 which is leading to the closure of Hawthorne Middle/High School, and has put school privation on steroids. And he’s terrible on Stand Your Ground, is opposed to marijuana decriminalization, and and has offered little more than lip service for felon re-enfranchisement. To put it bluntly, Perry sucks.

But this is a rough district for anyone to win. Obama carried it in 2012 by 1.2% and Trump won in 2016 by 0.2%. Yet Perry walked away in 2016 with 53% of the vote (Rod Smith was a blue dog democrat former State Attorney who was extremely problematic). This seat is all the more difficult now that former Gainesville Commissioner Charles Goston decided (or was coached) to run without any party affiliation as a giant fuck you to white liberals, unions, black women, and the entire coalition who helped get him out of office.

Kayser Enneking is someone many progressives are predisposed to distrust. She’s a well educated, rich, white woman, born into wealth, who few movement activists knew much about before she decided to run for office. I was prepared to vote against Perry more than vote for her. But she’s shown up for things that matter to this community. She’s been to living wage meetings at the Civic Media Center and Renters’ Rights meetings at the Alachua County Labor Coalition offices. She’s also followed up in advocating at UF for OPS workers and put work in on causes that progressives care about. She’s also a powerful woman breaking into the almost-all-boys-club of state politics and is a physician who been a consistent advocate for access to healthcare. Vote for Enneking because she’ll push for a living wage and housing rights inside and outside the Florida Senate.


State Representative District 21

Vote for Jason Haesler because he’ll be a good Representative. And let’s be honest, if you got this far on the blog you’re already voting straight Ds.

He also has a sweet beard.


United States Senator:

US Senator Nelson is not a progressive by any stretch of the imagination. He hasn’t signed on as a cosponsor or said he would support Senate Bill 1804, the Medicare For All Act. He’s not great on Palestine and is generally pro-empire (imperialism, war, etc.). He was part of the Clinton “New Democrat” coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats who cut back social spending to anemic levels and domestically waged war on black and brown people. It’s important that we do not whitewash Nelson’s politics for expediency. But as Trump showed us – it can get worse.
Rick Scott is one of those most vile politicians in the history of Florida. He’s a millionaire who oversaw one of the largest Medicare frauds in history and bought his way into his seat. He continues to make himself and his friends richer at the expense of working people. His formula of tax cuts, school privatization, social spending cuts, and the over policing of people of color would be brought to DC. Vote Bill Nelson for US Senate because he’s not Rick Scott.


Representative in Congress District 3

Congressman Ted Yoho is just awful. Most recently he pondered why the Kavanaugh accusers didn’t come out sooner while claiming Roy Moore’s charges were bogus (link). The list of things he’s said and done is so absurd it’s hard to believe he’s a real person. Hell, he said said only landowners should be allowed to vote in 2014 and was still elected. Twice.
Yvonne Hayes Hinson is a former City of Gainesville Commissioner who lost to Goston in 2015. She was good on her three years on the city commission but it’s an uphill battle against Yoho. Fivethirtyeight gives her a less than 1 out of 100 chance of winning this strongly conservative district. Nonetheless, vote for Yvonne Hayes Hinson because she’d be a good Congressperson.


Governor and Lt. Governor

There’s a real opportunity for Florida to elected a progressive Governor with Andrew Gillum. The Miami native, who grew up in Gainesville, is the current Mayor of Tallahassee. He’s called for a $50,000 starting salary for teachers (paid for by taxing the rich). He’s an environmentalist, wants to reign in Stand Your Ground, and stop private prisons. While not directly under investigation, his administration has a lot of baggage due to corruption in local politics. And of course he’s also a progressive black man and the far right will use any dog whistles they can.

Ron Desantis won his primary in large part thanks to support from Trump. After winning the nomination he couldn’t wait a full 24 hours before starting the racism by calling on voters not to “monkey up” the election by voting for this “articulate spokesperson for Socialism”. And this is a theme he’s used throughout his campaign. Scare white people away from Gillum by calling him a gay socialist criminal. Vote for Gillum/King in November unless you’re a racist. In that case, how’d you find this blog?


Attorney General

The Florida Attorney General is a very important position. There’s high profile things they can do like sue the Trump like sue the Trump administration over family separations, but most of their work is in state. Of particular interest to me is the prosecution of violations to the state’s minimum wage law. When we were working on the Alachua County Wage Theft ordinance we called the Attorney General’s office to see what data they had and found that they were unaware that they had this responsibility.

Sean Shaw has committed that, if elected, his office will start prosecuting wage theft violations, loosen regulations on marijuana, and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis. He also has one of the most progressive voting records in the Florida house and has been a strong supporter of public schools. Vote for Sean Shaw because we need someone to keep the bosses who steal our wages in check.


Chief Financial Officer

Jeremy Ring is a millionaire, an early employee at Yahoo, and your run-of-the-mill technocratic Democrat. He was lukewarm while in the Florida Senate, even becoming one of the few Democrats allowed to chair a committee in the Republican controlled chamber. That said, he’s mountains better than the Republican running, Jimmy Patronis.
Vote for Jeremy Ring because you don’t know what the Florida CFO does but you’re pretty sure you don’t want a Republican doing the job.


Commissioner of Agriculture

This is a pretty important position with a lot of say over consumer protections. Of most interest to me Is Niki Fried’s positions on deregulating medical marijuana and taking on the NRA. Matt Caudwell is an unimpressive white dude who thinks that wearing ridiculous bow ties has prepared him for one of the most important elected positions in Florida.

Vote for Nikki Fried because she’ll help bring smokable medical marijuana to Florida.


Pdf document

 

2018 Gainesville Elections Guide

Gainesville City Elections are underway! Vote by mail ballots were sent out last week and are already in voters’ hands (you can request or track your ballot here).

You can skip the reasoning/background and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early from Saturday, March 10th until Saturday, March 17. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM, and Tuesday & Thursday 10 AM – 6 PM at:

You can also vote on election day, March 20th from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and you can find your voting location here.

Two City Commission seats are up this year, District 1 (D1) and At-Large 1 (AL1). AL1 represents all of Gainesville while D1 is the Eastern part of Gainesville (map).  60% of registered voters in D1 are non-white, compared with 40% in AL1. D1 is also the only district in Gainesville with a majority non-white population making this seat vital for representation of communities of color.


At-Large 1

Commissioner Harvey Budd is running for re-election which means he gets to be judged on his actions over the last 3 years. Most relevant to me is when Commissioner Budd voted against living wage increases for City of Gainesville workers (link). He eventually changed his vote, but was one of only two commissioners who later voted against a living wage increase for part-time city workers (link). He also voted against the purchase of the GREC power plant, which is expected to lower the average electric bill by 10% (link). Just last year, he wanted to develop the Weiss property (the largest undeveloped tract in Gainesville), instead of conserving it, which was one key reason he did not receive an endorsement from the Sierra Club. He also held the Gainesville Votes initiative hostage as he was worried people like him wouldn’t be able to be elected if turnout was higher. (link).

The thing is, all of these progressive initiatives got done regardless of Commissioner Budd. Hell, he even agrees with many of the things he’s voted against. He wanted to pay a living wage to city workers, just not the way that the other City Commissioners or activists (including 2015 candidate Budd) wanted. He also wanted to purchase the GREC power plant to lower utility costs; he just didn’t want to pay the purchasing price that the rest of the commission agreed to. He supported moving City elections to November but only if there was an instant runoff, which isn’t currently viable for legal reasons, as had been previously explained to him. His one vote has been an unnecessary complication for progressive causes in Gainesville. At best he’s been a bad dealmaker and at worst an obstructionist. Many of the progressive organizations which supported him in 2015 are either supporting his opponent or staying out of this race.

Gail Johnson is a breath of fresh air in the race for At Large 1. Not only would it be great to have a woman of color on this mostly white (5 out of 7) and mostly male (6 out of 7) commission, but more importantly she would do a great job. Her platform is solid, she has the momentum to beat Budd, and honestly, I can’t wait to work with her to get progressive legislation passed. I expect her to win by double digits.  A vote for Gail Johnson is a vote for progress.


District 1

Commissioner Charles Goston has been in office for 3 years. He’s a former union president and owner of Black College Monthly magazine His record in office has been mixed. Two recent actions  which upset me are that he came out against requirements that rental properties meet a basic level of energy efficiency, and he published a wildly inaccurate anti-union article in his publication. For the most part he’s been decent on issues that matter. But as we say in the South, he’s more hat than cattle. He’s know for railing against institutional racism in the city, but has done very little to dismantle it. His boasting has led to him being fact checked by the Gainesville Sun in January and February. His inaction in the city has also prompted two well qualified challengers.

Tyra ‘Ty Loudd’ Edwards is an community organizer through and through. She’s an activist who bleeds progressive politics. Edwards attends the leftist meetings, isn’t afraid to be “Loudd” to authority figures, and is someone I consider a comrade in the fight for economic and racial justice. If you’re reading this blog you most likely have met her at the Civic Media Center, the Porters Community Center, or on TV holding the City Commission accountable for their actions (and often inactions) in East Gainesville. Simply put, she’s earned your vote by putting her actions where her politics are. Edwards has only raised ~$1,200 but isn’t running a traditional campaign. She’s knocking on every door she can and focusing on turning out youth of color. Activists candidates have attempted nontraditional campaigns in the past but, to my knowledge, none have been successful.

Gigi Simmons is another strong candidate. She’s been on a lot of boards, understands how the city government works, and is very active in liberal causes. She’s been endorsed by the Florida AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, Human Rights Council, Zero Waste Gainesville, and the Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation. She earned these endorsements because she’s very impressive in her depth of knowledge and her resolve to address problems facing East Gainesville. She’s raised ~$5,000 to Gostons ~$8,000 which puts her in a place where she can run an effective traditional campaign.

In order for someone to be elected to office they need 50% +1 of the votes. With District 1 being a three way race it’s very likely that this will go to a runoff on April 17th. Vote for Tyra ‘Ty Loudd’ Edwards or Gigi Simmons on March 20th. Both would be great City Commissioners and you will likely get a chance to vote for one of them again in the run off.


Alachua County Labor Coalition Questionnaires

While the ACLC doesn’t endorse I found these questionnaires very useful.

2018 Gainesville Sample Ballot

Gainesville Voter Guide – 2017

Gainesville’s city elections are on March 14th in which At-Large 2, District-2, and District-3 commissioners will be elected.

These elections have a low turnout. The last three comparable elections had ~15% turnout. Hell, Commissioner Warren won her run off by 128 votes in 2014. In the same year, Commissioner Carter won with 180 votes. These elections have such low turnout that individual voters and their social networks can easily sway an election. All the more reason for you to go out and vote.

For the upcoming city elections I recommend: 

  • Jenn Powell for AL-2
  • Harvey Ward for D-2
  • David Arreola for D-3

You have to live in the district to vote for Ward and Arreola but anyone in the City can vote for Powell. Here’s an easy voter guide you can take to the polls with you.

Vote-by-mail ballots are already out and early voting is from Monday, March 6th through Saturday, March 11. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 AM – 5 PM. Tuesday and  Thursday from 10 AM – 6 PM at the Supervisor of Elections Office, the Millhopper Branch Library, and the Cone Park Library.  Election day voting is on Tuesday, March 14th from 7AM – 7PM.  You can find your voting location here.

At Large Two:

Gainesville is a progressive town and deserves progressive leaders. Helen Warren was elected on razor thin margins in 2014 against Annie Orlando. A major distinguishing factor between Orlando and Warren surrounded the biomass plant. Different camps flocked to each of these candidates with most conservative voices and some progressives surrounding Orlando in an odd coalition. Orlando had the support of the  Chamber of Commerce and the Sierra Club. The AFL-CIO and Equality Florida were firmly behind Warren in 2014.

Warren as a commissioner has been a disappointment. She’s a great person who has the potential to be a great commissioner; but has currently fallen short. What motions has she made to champion progressive causes? What plans has she rolled out to address inequality? Homelessness? Discrimination? After thee years on the commission what accomplishments can she point to? Whatever she has done has earned her the support of the Chamber of Commerce and lost her the support of the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club.

Jenn Powell has very little experience as a politician. She was a delegate from Alachua County for Bernie Sanders to the Democratic National Convention. She was a pivotal member of the “Bern Unit” that brought Sanders to Gainesville in 2016. Her coalition is made up of Bernie supporters, former Warren supporters, environmentalists, union activists, and most of the progressives that supported Orlando in 2014.

I’ve heard a lot of criticisms of Powell being too new, unrefined, and unready. Oddly enough these are similar criticisms made of Warren in 2014. Powell is a true working-class person who will bring this needed perspective to the commission. Please lookout for classism when you hear people talking about Powell’s ability to serve on the commission. I’ve had to call out more than a few people for their comments. (side note: you probably shouldn’t joke about a person’s class to a labor rights activist)

I’ve talked to some people who are staying out of this race because they don’t think Powell can win, but a few factors point otherwise. A lot of Warren’s 2014 coalition feels isolated by her and will either stay home or vote for Powell. Powell also has a network of sporadic voters who will cast their first City ballot this March. There is also likely to be a higher turnout due to the heightened political environment. When elections are decided by such few votes these changes can equal a win for Powell.

I’m supporting Powell for At-Large 2 because she’ll be a strong, consistent voice for working people in Gainesville

District Two:

D-2 is the most conservative district in Gainesville. Of course, by most conservative I mean it’s 51% Democrat and 26% Republican. This seat is being vacated by soon to be former commissioner Todd Chase who is termed out. Chase has been a consistent detractor against progressive causes on the commission. This seat has been occupied by a Republican ever since then D-2 Commissioner Lauren Poe lost in 2011 by ~400 votes.

There are three people running in this election so there’s a chance that it will go to a run off on April 11th as a candidate needs 50% plus 1 to win outright.

Harvey Ward is a progressive through and through. Even before he was running for office he was a common sight at progressive events. He never showed up for face time with voters or for a quote in the media but to be part of the movement. He’s tabled for the Alachua County Labor Coalition, gathered signatures for a living wage, and lent his voice and time lobbying for  progressive causes. In short, Harvey Ward is one of our own and has earned your vote.

Perry Clawson is a Republican who has been endorsed by Commissioner Chase. He’s been very reasonable in all the interactions I’ve had with him. I’d even go as far as to say that his politics are to the left of Chase and he’d likely be a Carter style Republican. What makes him unelectable is his violent past. In ’92 he was picked up for Battery/Theft in Orange County, in ’03 for Batter/Domestic Violence in Seminole County, and in ’10 for stabbing a man in the stomach in South Carolina.

The most disturbing to me is the domestic violence case in which the police officer wrote:

At some point she fell out of the bed onto the floor. When asked, Mr. Clawson denied ever touching his wife. Mrs. Clawson suffered a bruise to her bottom lip and an abrasion to her left knee.

When Deputy Gamber and I arrived on scene, Mrs. Clawson became was visibly upset declaring nothing was wrong and that her husband did nothing to her. Mr. Clawson advised that it was his wife who set off the alarm signaling violence within the home.

He further advised that at no time did he touch his wife, but could not answer as to how she received the bruises.

The 2010 case in South Carolina was dismissed because of a mistrial but I believe a civil case is still ongoing. I’ve yet to hear him respond to this in its totality, only the domestic violence incident. In that instance he points out that it was investigated by multiple agencies, he was cleared of any wrong doing, and that he was able to keep his top secret military clearance. This is still highly concerning and should give everyone pause.

Sheryl Eddie is running for the second time in this district. She’s a solid candidate with good politics. She’d definitely be an important added voice to the mostly boys’ club that is the City Commission. The one qualm I have with her is that she claims she gets along with everyone, including the Chamber of Commerce and groups I don’t agree with. As a general rule I don’t want a commissioner to get along with the Chamber or any groups that consistently work to undermine working people’s issues. Mostly, I’m not supporting Eddie for this seat is because Ward is running. If you are split between Ward and Eddie I’d recommend casting your ballot for Ward. If Ward can get 50% +1 we can avoid an April run off.

District Three:

David Arreola is seen as a long shot to take out the incumbent Craig Carter in D-3. Arreola is young (26 years old) and has a lot less money than Carter. He would be the first Latino to serve on the commission adding much needed diversity to a Commission that’s 6 white and 1 African American.

Arreola’s politics are solid and he would make a great commissioner but getting him elected is the trouble. Carter, while a Republican that I butt heads with frequently, is very accessible. He has also moved away from his conservative positions and voted for progressive causes. He voted for the City to stop using mountain top removal coal and came out in support of the wild spaces public spaces tax. Carter also made the motion to increase workers’ pay to $12.25 an hour last year which is the the only reason it passed. Two sitting democrats voted against this motion the month before.

But can Arreola win? I think he can for a few reasons:

  1. The district is a bit different than it was in 2014. The district is now 50% Democrat and 23% Republican. And it’s 60% Democrat for those 65+ who are the most likely to vote. Party ID is going to be key in this “non-partisan” race.
  2. This is a student heavy district and students don’t normally vote in city elections. But I’m expecting a higher turnout in this election due to the heightened political climate. Also, a lot of these young people voted in November so their records should be up to date.
  3. Craig Carter has isolated himself from his base. While I’ve been shocked and happy with his progressive votes his coalition has not been thrilled. How many of his people will stay home because he went against the Chamber and supported the Wild Spaces tax? A dozen? How many more will leave their ballot blank in protest against his living wage motion? Another dozen or so? Keep in mind that Carter was elected in 2014 with only 180 votes.

Arreola has a real shot at winning this election. While Carter has been good on some issues (and terrible on others) I’d rather have a reliable progressive vote than a compassionate conservative as a commissioner.

2016 GENERAL ELECTIONS GUIDE – Alachua County

Update: 11/2/16: After a lot of conversations about Jill Stein I’d like to correct the record. Stein believes in vaccines and has a much more nuanced critique of the health effects of Wi-Fi. That said I still think she’s not speaking out against these and other conspiracy theories because she doesn’t want to lose their votes. This is dangerous but different than the way I presented her below. 


Vote by mail ballots were sent out on Wednesday (10/5) and should be in voters hand any day. You can request or track your ballot here.

You can skip the reasoning/background and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early from October 24th to November 5th from 9-6PM at:

You can also find your voting location here if you want to vote on election day (Nov 8th).

President:

Vote for Clinton. She’s a flawed, center/center-right candidate, but you should vote for her. Her politics don’t line up with mine but she has my vote because Trump and his brand of politics need to be soundly defeated. If you’re considering a third party candidate please know that Johnson is a far-right ass-hat that can’t name one foreign leader and Jill Stein is an anti-vaxer that thinks wi-fi causes disease. And if you’re considering voting for Trump… how did you find this blog?

US Senate:

Vote Patrick Murphy. He’s another center-right democrat (can we please find a progressive to run for office) who has very little chance of winning. His crowing achievement is that he’s not Marco Rubio.

Congress D-3

Vote for Ken McGurn. This is a very tough one for me. Ken McGurn is yet another center-right democrat with a problematic history. Tom Wells (NPA) has better politics but no chance of winning. None. Don’t tell me this year is somehow made of magic and Wells can win, because he can’t. I don’t fault people for voting for Wells over McGurn. I blame McGurn’s politics and his history of calling homeless people crooks, criminals, and rapist (sound like Trump much?). My recommendation is to vote for McGurn to defeat the far-right Tea Party joke that is Ted Yoho but tell him you have a problem with how he talks about homeless people.

Florida Senate-8

Vote for Rod Smith. This might be the most important race on the ticket as it’ll have major ramifications for state politics for years to come. Smith is a centrist Democrat with a problematic history. Hell, they made a documentary about one of them but he’s good on many other issues. He’s also not Keith Perry who famously tried to take away local wage theft ordinances while his business was being accused of wage theft. Perry also recently slapped a man and there’s a video of it.

Florida Representative-10

Vote for Jerry Bullard. If you live in High Springs you’ll have a chance to vote for Bullard. His wife is a union teacher and he fully supports public education. His opponent, Elizabeth Porter, is a rising star in the Republican Party. If Bullard can pull off an upset it’ll be a major blow to the Republican bench.

Florida Representative – 21

Vote for Marihelen Wheeler. This is the first true progressive on your ballot. She’s a retired union school teacher, environmentalist, immigration rights activist, folksy as hell, and an all around great person. Vote for her. Give her money. Volunteer your time with her. If she gets elected she’ll do amazing things for working people.

Clerk of the Court

Write in Sam Collins. J.K Irby is a good guy that will undoubtedly be elected but the circumstances surrounding his father’s retirement are shady and needsto be called out. A strong write in turnout will show that the actions leading to J.K Irby being the only name on the ballot didn’t go unnoticed.

Sheriff:

Saddie Darnell has terrible politics. She lead the state wide charge against medical marijuana and her constant fighting with the County Commission is tiresome. Jake Jacobs is a Republican. If you can stomach voting for a Republican, go for it. If you can’t and can’t vote for Darnell – write in Pat Fitzpatrick. (Note: This is a insider joke. You can’t actually vote for a write in)

County Commissioners:

Write in candidates names won’t appear on the ballot but you can still vote for them. They are there due to a loophole in the primary law which allowed them to close out the recent August primary. It’s very unlikely that a Republican can be elected to the Alachua County Commission so most of them threw their support behind conservative Democrats. If the primary was open then the Republicans would have voted for these conservative Democrats and they would have won. The write-in candidates made sure that only Democrats voted in the primary election spoiling their plans and protecting the integrity of a Democratic primary.

While this worked well for progressives in Alachua County it also worked well for conservatives in Republican led counties. In Jacksonville a campaign manager closed out the primary of the much despised State Attorney Angela Corey. She ended up losing but the actions of her campaign manager locked out progressive voices and people of color who had major issues with her. In the outlying counties the far-right used this tactic to ensure that only the most reactionary are elected to office.

Write them in as a protest to the broken closed primary system if you want, I’ve considered it. I strongly supported Byery and Hutch in their primaries and will be voting for them again. I don’t know any of them or their reasons for running but Chloe seems to have great politics.

Vote Mike Byerly for County Commission 1.

Vote Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson for County Commission 3.

Write in Chloe Michelle Goldbach for County Commission 5.

Justice of the Supreme Court and District Court of Appeals:

Vote YES to retain all Judges. I don’t think judges should be able to be recalled. It’s bad for the justice system and democracy.  Here’s a quick read on the topic.

Amendments and Questions:

Vote NO on Constitutional Amendment 1 – the so called solar amendment is backed by the utility companies and would hamper individuals from putting up panels (link).

Vote YES on Constitutional Amendment 2 – this medical marijuana amendment isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. It’ll allow people with certain, really debilitating illnesses, to use marijuana legally.

Vote YES on Constitutional Amendment 3 – this amendment would exempt first respondents (police officers and firefighters) who are permanently disabled in the line of duty from ad valorem taxes.

Vote YES on Constitutional Amendment 5 – extends the homestead tax break to poor senior citizens. Poor elderly people in the state need this relief.

Vote YES on Alachua County Question 1 – the one mil for schools tax is really important for Alachua County. This tax goes to pay for art and music teachers, technology purchases, and nurses at every school. If you think kids, especially those who are poor and/or of color, should get a well rounded education then you should vote for this.

Vote YES on Alachua County Question 2 – The “Wild Places Public Spaces” tax goes to purchases conservation land and to build parks. This tax has gone to make Alachua County the unique place of culture and nature that I love.

november-ballot

2016 Alachua County Elections Guide

EDIT: 8/28/16:
After talking to people at the Grayson (US Senate) and Zedalis (Alachua Sheriff) campaigns and community members whose support they’ve earned I’d like to encourage everyone to support  them. Their politics are better than their opponents and there’s so much doubt in their domestic violence cases to warrant a support. Thank you to the strong feminist who took the time to talk me through this.


You can skip the reasoning and see my recommendations here. Whatever you do, make sure you vote. You can vote early though Saturday, August 27th from 9-5PM (6PM on Thursday) at:

You can also find your voting location here if you want to vote on election day

The easy stuff:

  • Hutch vs McDaniel for County Commission 3 is going to be a land slide for Hutch. I like McDaniel and hope he runs for something again. I’ll be voting for Hutch because he’s been a champion for working families and the environment.
  • Kim Barton for Supervisor of Elections. While all the candidates are very qualified I think she’ll do the best for outreach which will help drive up voter turnout.
  • Yes on Amendment 4. It’ll make solar energy cheaper.

The not so easy stuff:

US Senate:

The US Senate race in Florida became seemingly un-competitive as soon a Rubio decided to use the Pulse Massacre as cause to run for reelection. The sole redeeming quality of the center-right, New Democrat Murphy was that he was electable. Have you seen his polling numbers among Latinos? Grayson’s domestic violence accusations cannot be dismissed simply because he is a progressive firebrand. I’m voting for Pam Keith because I can’t support a wife beater and Murphy’s a dud. I don’t think she’ll win the nomination and I don’t think any of them can beat Rubio.

Alachua County Sheriff:

Darnell vs Zedalis for Sheriff is the least interesting race for me. Darnell lead the state wide charge against medical marijuana and her constant fighting with the County Commission is tiresome.  It looked like Zedalis was the obvious alternative until he was fired this year for domestic violence. It’s a complicated case but I don’t feel comfortable advocating for anyone with these allegations lobbed at him. Read up on Zedalis. If you believe his story and don’t mind his pro NRA stance vote for him. If not, write in Pat Fitzpatrick.

The hard decisions:

There are only 2 races that really interest me for the August 30th election in Alachua County. Complicated histories between the Chamber of Commerce, white environmentalist, and the African American community has come to a head. Most of the issues stem from Envision Alachua. If you need to get caught up The Fine Print has a pretty comprehensive read on it. The short and long of it is that African American people in Alachua County, like much of America, are more poor, have less opportunity, and are less healthy than their white neighbors. The mostly white environmentalist opposed the plan which promised economic salvation to the African American community at the cost of sensitive wet lands. The two incumbent candidates in this race are white and have been steadily against Envision Alachua while the two insurgent candidates are African American and supportive.

Byerly vs Thorpe for County Commission 1:

The Gainesville Sun’s endorsement of Thorpe came as a shock to me. What was more shocking though was how they gave him a pass on his anti-gay sermon and his funding sources. I think Thorpe can come back from both of these but hasn’t had the opportunity to because he hasn’t been pushed.

One argument against Byerly that is sticking is that he served 16 years as a commissioner. While hard to unpack concisely- the entire notion of term limits is undemocratic and highly corrosive to a functioning government. If institutional knowledge isn’t kept with our elected officials it will rest in un-elected staff and lobbyist. But the sound bite that Byerly is career politician plays well.

In the end I support Byerly because he has supported the issues that matter most to me.

Note: due to the loophole in Florida’s open primary law only Democrats can vote in the County Commission races on August 30th

Kinsey vs Roy for School Board 2:

The incumbent, Eileen Roy was on the planning board and firmly opposed to Envision Alachua. With her already tainted in the eyes of the African American community she then helped push school Superintendent Dr. Owens out. I was never a fan of Dr. Owens. He brought religion into the school system, took condoms away from youths,  and was known for being unsupportive towards teachers. What pushed Roy and two others to ask for his resignation was when he was accused of plagiarizing in his self published book.

The main issue I have with Kinsey isn’t his age or experience. I’m sure he’d do a fine job. It gives me pause that he’s funded by a lot of right wing and reactionary sources. What really worries me is that he seems to be supporting people whose politics I despise. I’ve yet to get a good explanation as to why Thorpe and Kinsey were at Kieth Perry’s campaign kick off (starts at 2:40).

The main reason I support Eileen Roy because those that work for her support her (see: Alachua County Education Association).

A full listing of candidates can be found here.

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