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

Alachua County Primary Predictions – 2016

Polls close tomorrow, Tuesday August 30th at 7 PM. If you haven’t voted already please do. You can find your polling location here and my recommendations here.

My predictions:

  • Turnout will be ~23% (for Dems).
  • Hutch, Roy, Barton and Amendment 4 will win in landslides.
  • Byerly and Darnell will win with ~55%.
  • Murphy and Bullard (HD-10) will win decidedly.

Closed Democratic Primary for County Commissioners and Sheriff:

We’re on track for a turnout in the low 20’s. We might break 25% if there’s a major push for turnout on election day.

Dem votes as of 8/28
Voted Early 6202
Voted By Mail 7071
At the Polls 0
Total 13273
Turnout so far 15.41%

Unlikely voters, those who have voted in 0 of 3 or 1 of 3 previous primaries are making up less than 30% of the vote. Note that this doesn’t take into account the newly registered who didn’t have an opportunity to vote in previous elections. There’s a lot of people in Gainesville who are young and/or registered for the first time due to the presidential primary and are voting for the first time during this election cycle. If there was an anti-incumbent surge I’d expect a higher vote share from unlikely voters.

Primary Voting Total People
0 of 3 1,096 8.26%
1 of 3 2,833 21.34%
2 of 3 2,874 21.65%
3 of 3 6,470 48.75%
Total People 13,273

There have been major efforts to turnout the African-American vote the previous Sunday and this past Saturday. The payoff has been good for unlikely voters but the overall effect has been small. African-Americans make up a disproportionately higher share of unlikely voters so far but the total vote share is still low. It seems that the majority of people early voting were regular voters. In fact, the vote share of African-Americans has gone down from 24.5% on Tuesday (8/23) to 22.8% by Sunday (8/28). The total vote share of African-Americans is likely to go down further unless there’s a massive turnout on Tuesday.

Primary Voting
Race/Ethnicity: Voting as of 8/28/16
African American % Asian % Caucasian %
0 of 3 419 38.23 15 1.37 616 56.2
1 of 3 657 23.19 56 1.98 2,000 70.6
2 of 3 608 21.16 29 1.01 2,154 74.95
3 of 3 1,342 20.74 37 0.57 4,996 77.22
Total People 3,026 22.8 137 1.03 9,766 73.58
Primary Voting
Race/Ethnicity: Voting as of 8/28/16
Hispanic % Native American % Total People
0 of 3 41 3.74 4 0.36 1,096 8.26%
1 of 3 112 3.95 8 0.28 2,833 21.34%
2 of 3 67 2.33 13 0.45 2,874 21.65%
3 of 3 82 1.27 12 0.19 6,470 48.75%
Total People 302 2.28 37 0.28 13,273

The early voters so far are the people who put these incumbents into office to begin with. I expect ~6,500 people to vote at the polls on Tuesday. They are likely to be younger and more diverse then those who have already voted; but there would have to be a lot of them to make a difference at this point considering the numbers.


Alachua County School Board:

This race is seeing a lot of turnout with Republicans and likely voters. For a winning Kinsey coalition there should be a lot of young, African-American, and unlikely voters as well as a high Republican turnout.

All County Voters as of 8/29
Voted Early 8235
Voted By Mail 12195
At the Polls 0
Total 20430
Turnout so far 11.24%

The vote share of African-Americans drops to less than 16% for the School Board but the number of unlikely voters is still disproportionately higher, especially for those who have not voted in any of the last three primaries.

Primary Voting
Race/Ethnicity: Voting as of 8/28/16
African American % Asian % Caucasian %
0 of 3 505 25.12 47 2.34 1,361 67.71
1 of 3 707 17.02 93 2.24 3,163 76.16
2 of 3 643 14.05 51 1.11 3,745 81.84
3 of 3 1,385 14.29 56 0.58 8,116 83.75
Total People 3,240 15.86 247 1.21 16,385 80.2
Primary Voting
Race/Ethnicity: Voting as of 8/28/16
Hispanic % Native American % Total People
0 of 3 87 4.33 7 0.35 2,010 9.84%
1 of 3 178 4.29 12 0.29 4,153 20.33%
2 of 3 111 2.43 23 0.5 4,576 22.40%
3 of 3 115 1.19 18 0.19 9,691 47.44%
Total People 491 2.4 60 0.29 20,430

The vote share of Republicans, who have their own primary for HD-21 right now, is 27.5%. Even if every non Democrat voted for Kinsey (which they’re not) it wouldn’t be enough to carry a winning coalition.

Primary Voting
Party: Voting as of 8/28/16
Democrats % Green % Libertarian %
0 of 3 1,096 54.53 2 0.1 12 0.6
1 of 3 2,833 68.22 6 0.14 12 0.29
2 of 3 2,874 62.81 2 0.04 11 0.24
3 of 3 6,470 66.76 2 0.02 4 0.04
Total People 13,273 64.97 12 0.06 39 0.19
Primary Voting
Party: Voting as of 8/28/16
Other % Republicans % Unaffiliated %
0 of 3 60 2.99 308 15.32 532 26.47
1 of 3 52 1.25 873 21.02 377 9.08
2 of 3 50 1.09 1,394 30.46 245 5.35
3 of 3 24 0.25 3,047 31.44 144 1.49
Total People 186 0.91 5,622 27.52 1,298 6.35

The millennial vote (those under 35) hasn’t turned out in large numbers yet. They do make up a disproportionate share of first time primary and unlikely voters. A phenomenon that’s likely exaggerated due to many of them recently registering to vote for the first time. People over 65 make up just under half of the votes cast so far. This is likely going to go down on election day but the trend will most likely hold. Old people vote much, much more often than young people especially in non-presidential elections.

Primary Voting 18 to 24 % 25 to 34 % 35 to 49 %
0 of 3 198 9.85 301 14.98 404 20.1
1 of 3 354 8.52 520 12.52 689 16.59
2 of 3 105 2.29 264 5.77 619 13.53
3 of 3 44 0.45 195 2.01 711 7.34
Total People 701 3.43 1,280 6.27 2,423 11.86
Primary Voting 50 to 64 % 65+ % Total People
0 of 3 581 28.91 523 26.02 2,010
1 of 3 1,198 28.85 1,392 33.52 4,153
2 of 3 1,452 31.73 2,136 46.68 4,576
3 of 3 2,708 27.94 6,033 62.25 9,691
Total People 5,939 29.07 10,084 49.36 20,430

I know all the campaigns are going to be pulling out all the stops until polls close; but Kinsey and Thorpe have an uphill battle ahead of them.