Republican Jean Calderwood and Democrat Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson will face off on Nov. 6 to represent District 3 on the Alachua County Commission.
Both candidates have prior political experience. Calderwood served as mayor of Alachua, as well as on the Alachua City Commission for seven years. Hutchinson, who is currently serving as director for the Alachua Conservation Trust, previously served on the Alachua County Commission.
Calderwood said the economy is the No. 1 issue facing Alachua County.
“We have high taxes; we have roads that are deteriorating, and then we have the biomass issue,” Calderwood said. “All of those things are very discouraging for economic development.”
Hutchinson thinks the economy is important, but he also stressed the importance of balancing economic development efforts with environmental preservation.
“I really believe that university communities like ours and the technology rollout from Shands and the University of Florida will create jobs that we can keep locally, as long as we do the right thing from a governmental perspective,” Hutchinson said.
Both candidates are concerned with social issues facing constituents.
Hutchinson said the jail system needs to be reformed, especially because many people in Florida jails are there because of mental health and substance abuse issues. He thinks it would be cheaper and more humane to have proper mental health and drug treatment programs.
Calderwood said she does not think Hutchinson did enough during his time on the Alachua County Commission, especially in respect to at-risk juveniles.
“We need to start from the bottom up protecting our youth, and we’ve certainly done that in the City of Alachua,” Calderwood said.
The difference between the candidates comes down to general conservative versus liberal leanings, according to Hutchinson.
The District 3 seat was previously held by Paula DeLaney, whose term expires in November.