On Nov. 6, Alachua County voters will select a county commissioner for District 5.
The race provides a unique situation after Rodney Long stepped down from the position earlier this year.
Republican Dean Cheshire and Democrat Charles Chestnut IV are running for the seat, and both have a history in the Gainesville area.
Cheshire was born in Gainesville and is a two-time graduate of the University of Florida, including its MBA program. Chestnut is a fourth-generation Gainesville resident and said his family has always been active in the community.
“I see such an amazing potential for our county, and I think it’s largely an unrealized potential,” Cheshire said. “When I look at the landscape, I can see that we can absolutely be doing things better.”
Cheshire cited job losses and a struggling economy as items that need to be improved.
Chestnut said Alachua County is an ideal place to live, and he would like to continue to trend so that children can continue to grow up successfully in the community. He also cites his experience in government as a key component to the election.
“I think with the experience I have, I can allow Alachua County to go in the right direction,” Chestnut said.
The Democratic candidate said a decision will be needed on hiring a county manager after the election, and he has experience doing so in the past as a city commissioner.
Cheshire said he excels in business understanding, as he helped to co-found an Internet technology company after college. The company, he said, started with five people and grew to a large enterprise over three years.
In terms of the economy, Cheshire said property tax relief is an imminent issue in Alachua County and changes have to be made.
“I don’t think that’s acceptable. I think it’s time we should look at what we can do and what adjustments can be made,” he said.
However, Chestnut said Alachua County should take a more balanced approach to government and not cut funding from programs.
District 5’s new county commissioner will be announced after election day. Candidate K. Siva Prasad is also running as an independent.
Kelsey Meany wrote this story for online.