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In the past six months, Alachua County's small towns and cities were scheduled to hold seven separate elections to choose their municipal leaders. Five were canceled. This series explores some of the reasons why.

Tiny Town, Mighty Mayor: 25 years of running unopposed at the helm

LaCrosse has the third smallest land area in Alachua County at 4.6 square miles and also the smallest population with about 300 people.
WUFT News/Destiny Dunning
LaCrosse has the third smallest land area in Alachua County at 4.6 square miles and also the smallest population with about 300 people.


In the minute it takes to drive through the main drag of LaCrosse, Florida, visitors can get a feel for what it’s like living in a small town as soon as they cross into city limits.

“It’s very small," said Ashari Calhoun, who works at one of the most popular spots in town, the Dollar General store. "Everybody knows everybody.”

Out of the nine municipalities in Alachua County, LaCrosse has the third smallest land area of 4.6 square miles and the smallest population of 319 people, according to World Population Review.

With such a small population, local elections in LaCrosse have been uneventful in recent years. And even non-existent.

LaCrosse slides

In March, the municipal election was canceled because no one ran to oppose the incumbents who were up for re-election — including for mayor, resulting in the re-election of Mayor Dianne Dubberly (R), 76.

Dubberly was first elected mayor in 1999 after serving on the town council for thirteen years prior. She said she has run unopposed ever since her initial election.

“There’s not a lot of competition, and a lot of people just don’t want to take on the job,” Dubberly said. “They just don’t. They’re very content to let somebody else do it.”

“Everybody asks for Dianne the most,” said Town Clerk Crystal Phillips about LaCrosse Mayor Dubberly, right. “And they will reach out to her even outside of office hours.”
WUFT News/Destiny Dunning
“Everybody asks for Dianne the most,” said Town Clerk Crystal Phillips about LaCrosse Mayor Dubberly, right. “And they will reach out to her even outside of office hours.”

In the town of LaCrosse, the combined salary between the council members and mayor is $13,200 for the fiscal year of 2024, according to the budget report that is listed on the town’s website. The total budget for the town is $181,258.

A life-long resident of LaCrosse, the mayor was successful in securing funding through the Florida Department of Transportation for several town improvement projects that started in 2016, including pedestrian street lighting that lines the town’s main road State Road 121, new welcome signs at the town limits and city hall, making sidewalks wider and adding disability-accessible ramps.

These projects were funded through the Federal Transportation Alternatives Program and consisted of a 10-mile stretch of State Road 121 to U.S. Route 441 costing $3.8 million.

The town also now has a flashing stop light to increase safety at the intersection of state roads 235 and 121. In addition, the mayor oversaw the establishment of an official town hall building. In 2022, construction of the Woodpecker walking trail, which was funded by the Alachua County Wild Spaces and Public Places fuel tax funds, was completed.

“I’m excited to see it open. Thank you so much,” Kathy Bratcher, 66, commented on a Facebook post upon the walking trail's completion.

“We’ve had things like that to improve community activities,” Dubberly said.

One thing it doesn't have is a library branch. Dubberly said she has been pushing the county for one. The only access to library books that residents currently have is when the Alachua County Library District Bookmobile visits town every Thursday and Friday.

LaCrosse Doesn't Have a Library Branch

“The town of LaCrosse is the only town in Alachua County that has been continually overlooked for a library branch,” Dubberly responded in an email, “when all other municipalities do have a branch and have had branches for quite a long while.”

Crystal Phillips, 31, was hired as town clerk last year. She’s lived in LaCrosse since she was a toddler. Phillips attended the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine, coming home on the weekends.

“I moved back a couple of years ago," Phillips said, "and when I saw this position open, I already knew a lot of people, the history of this town and it is a family town.”

LaCrosse's Culture is Agricultural

Phillips stressed how quiet and peaceful the town is and how everybody knows everybody, making it a really comfortable place to live.

Phillips assists Dubberly with updating the council on matters that need their attention and seeking ways to improve LaCrosse through grants and ideas to better the community. Phillips said that she can attest that Dubberly makes herself accessible to residents.

“Dianne’s been here the longest,” Phillips said, “and everybody asks for Dianne the most, and they will reach out to her even outside of office hours. They will reach out to her personally.”

Govinda Pizza, a food-truck style vegetarian pizzeria on N. State Road 121, is open daily except Sundays and Mondays.
WUFT News/Destiny Dunning
Govinda Pizza, a food-truck style vegetarian pizzeria on N. State Road 121, is open daily except Sundays and Mondays.

Within this small town, one of the most popular spots is the recently built Dollar General at the very end of LaCrosse’s main road. Prior to being the town's convenience store, it was a vegetable grower's warehouse. Nearby there's also the popular Govinda's Pizza, a vegetarian pizzeria run out of a food truck on State Road 121.

Calhoun, who works at Dollar General, naturally has met many LaCrosse residents.

The 21-year-old said that she sees many of the same customers on a day-to-day basis and has bonded with them throughout her time working there.

“It's kind of like a family,” she said.

Destiny is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.
Ethan is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.
Bianca is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.
Lauren is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.