Mary Lou Hildreth, charter review commission chair, and Jeremiah Tattersall, commission member, sit next to each other during the meeting. Hildreth says she wants name plaques instead of papers to better see who's who of the 11 commission members and two alternates. (Danielle Ivanov/WUFT News)
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Gainesville’s Charter Review Begins

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Gainesville’s city charter review commission on Tuesday slowly started its year-long work.

The 11 board members and two alternates kicked off the 5:30 p.m. meeting with individual introductions before electing Mary Lou Hildreth as commission chair and Crystal Goodison as vice chair.

Hildreth’s former eight years as Keystone Heights mayor and Goodison’s work as president of the Alachua County League of Women Voters earned them leadership roles.

“Today was housekeeping day,” said Donna Waller, a board member and retired Santa Fe College government professor. “There’ll be hard-hitting stuff later. We’re gonna have fun.”

Jeremiah Tattersall, board member and Alachua County Labor Coalition union liaison, agreed.

“I don’t think there’s gonna be a lot of public input until we start discussing specific items,” he said. “I’m excited to look at the charter review officers, and I’m also really excited to talk about the roles of the mayor. I think both of those items will be very robust.”

Donna Waller and Bob Cohen share a laugh after their first charter review meeting. (Danielle Ivanov/WUFT News)

Daniel Nee, litigation attorney for the city, said the commission members should read the 14-page charter before their next meeting before discussing possible changes.

“This is a charter review,” he said, “not necessarily a charter removal or a charter replacement.”

Here is the committee’s tentative schedule for each issue of the charter review.

It has until next May, six months before the local election, to recommend any changes.

Proposed changes would have at least three public meetings before going on the ballot, said Omichele Gainey, city commission clerk. The city commission can veto any change with a supermajority, or four-fifths, vote.

The group then discussed a few rules, like how three unexcused absences would remove a member from the committee, before choosing to finalize the rest at its next meeting.

It will be held June 13 at 5:30 p.m. in the Gainesville Regional Utilities administrative building multi-purpose room, located at 301 SE Fourth Ave.

About Danielle Ivanov

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

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