Registered voters in the City of Gainesville will decide on Tuesday, March 17, who will help make decisions in city government in the coming years.
Those who live in the city’s District 3 will decide between incumbent David Arreola and challenger Jennifer Reid.
Below is a short guide to each’s candidacy to help you make a choice.
Who he is
He’s a Gainesville native whose parents immigrated from Mexico and whose father worked at UF Health Shands. He graduated from Flagler College in St. Augustine.
His stated accomplishments from his first term
Arreola spoke of the city’s 10-year transit plan “that’s really going to change Gainesville transportation.” That includes the Regional Transit System’s first mile/last mile program begun during his second year in office. He also notes that he advocated for a freeze on the General Fund Transfer between Gainesville Regional Utilities and city government funds that would help keep GRU rates from increasing.
Why he’s running for a second term
He wants to focus on adding more affordable housing and spending $72 million in Gainesville Community Reinvestment Area funds to address blighted areas. He would also like to refurbish Citizens Field at the area near Northeast Eighth Avenue and Waldo Road that serves as a key venue for high school sports.
Problems he wants to solve
“In the last five years, we’ve seen more change than I think I saw in the previous 10 that I was here. And, you know, I really want that to be good for everybody. And so I’m giving back to my community the same way that it gave so much to my family. And the way that I see myself in this role is to be someone who is really giving a voice to those who don’t have a voice. There’s a lot of discussion in this city about the inequities and the sheer gaps in those who are wealthy and those who are struggling paycheck to paycheck. And a lot of times we don’t know our neighbors might be struggling paycheck to paycheck. And so how do we adjust those problems while we’re experiencing this wave of growth? And how do we make sure that it’s equitable, and that we’re setting up Gainesville so that in 10 years we’re not having this discussion? I think the city commission leadership has a huge part to play.”
He also wants to bring more public art to the downtown area and noted that his district in the city’s southwest side doesn’t have a neighborhood park.
Who’s given money to his campaign
More than 90 individuals and businesses had combined to contribute about $9,400 as of Feb. 14. Notable contributors in the Gainesville area include Gainesville City Commissioners Adrian Hayes-Santos and Harvey Ward, former City Commissioners Harvey Budd and Thomas Hawkins, Alachua County Commissioners Robert Hutchinson and Marihelen Wheeler, and State House District 21 candidate Kayser Enneking.
What his campaign spent it on
The majority of his $3,000 in expenses so far have gone to campaign consultant Katy Burnett and videographer Landon Jones.
Who she is
A Gainesville native whose entire family still lives in the city. She has two sons, ages 9 and 5, and her partner is a Gainesville Police Department officer in charge of training others. She’s also involved as a PTA board member, school advisory council member, Guardian Ad Litem volunteer, a member of an advisory board related to city development and a realtor in Gainesville.
Why she’s running
She last year ran and lost for the city’s mayor seat against Lauren Poe and two other candidates and has returned. “I’m still fighting for affordability and accountability,” she said, and thinks city transparency has gotten worse since her campaign for mayor. She wants everyone in the community to be a priority to the commission — “not just students, not just homeless. No one should have a larger voice than anyone else.”
Transforming the east side of Gainesville is a priority for her. “Not much has changed on the east side in the past 35 years the way other parts of Gainesville have.” She wants to make the city a more affordable place to live by “reprioritizing the budget and stop pulling funds from the general fund like it’s a piggy bank.”
Problems she wants to solve
She wants to see more transparency from city leaders about why GRU rates have increased in successive years. “I think the citizens just need to know why we continue to raise the rates and may continue to not be able to afford them,” she said, adding that she would like to see a partnership between Alachua County, the University of Florida, Santa Fe College and GRU to bring the rates back down. She also says the city is catering too much to the homeless and wants to make it harder for them to approach people to ask for money. “There is no limit to what they’re allowed to do,” she said.
She would also like to again increase salaries for Gainesville police officers in an effort to increase retention.
Who’s given money to her campaign
Five individuals have given a combined $295, with the Alachua County Republican Party also contributing $250.
What her campaign spent it on
Just over $150 in total so far has gone toward building a website and for printing expenses.
Editor’s note: Audio interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity.