Gainesville City Commissioner Gail Johnson Announces Her Resignation

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Commissioner Gail Johnson announced her intention to resign from office at a special city commission meeting on Monday afternoon, saying she no longer wishes to be associated with the decisions of the commission or of City Manager Lee Feldman.

She intends her last commission meeting to be the budget vote on Sept. 23.

Johnson was first elected in 2018 to an at-large seat in the city and won reelection in March. Her term was to run from May through November 2024.

Her full speech, as posted on Facebook, can be read below.


“After a lot of thought, prayer and conversations with trusted friends, family and mentors, I have decided to resign from my position as Commissioner for the City of Gainesville.

The collective good has always been the reason why I do this job, and I believe the reason that I am here is to advocate for those most underserved by local government.

However, for more than a year, it has become increasingly difficult to do the job I was twice elected to do. I can do any challenging job as long as I see the path, as long as I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I no longer see the path that will allow me to continue serving the people of Gainesville in the way I know you deserve.

It has never been my style to sugarcoat, curry favor or mince my words. This is not a game of 3D chess for me. Governing is not an academic exercise for me. I show up for this job, knowing in my bones how the decisions we make are directly impacting people’s lives.

So, I always do my best to operate with integrity. To me, integrity is choosing courage over comfort and choosing to *practice your values* rather than simply professing them. Repeatedly, the following examples have called the integrity of the commission into question: I continue to remain concerned about the retention of the city manager.

I continue to remain concerned about the opaque relationship with Colliers, The Caper dept and the sudden focus on valuable publicly owned land.

I continue to remain concerned about unkept promises we made to focus on east side development with CRA funds.

I continue to remain concerned about the strained relationships with other important partners in this work such as the County, School Board, UF and our own employees.

I continue to remain concerned about the once in a decade, incredible opportunity we have with the Comprehensive Plan update, that will be overshadowed by the push for upzoning, which will erroneously be used as a talking point for achieving racial equity.

Considering recent events, I remain concerned about the commitment to equity and inclusion in the City at the highest levels, including this board and members of our leadership team. There is a clear disconnect and misunderstanding about the priorities that will move us toward racial and gender equity.

The fact is that this next fiscal year of work will be predicated on the strategic plan. I fundamentally do not agree with the process of how we arrived at the priorities outlined in the strategic plan, or the execution of the priorities over the past year. The outsized focus on development is problematic.

Which brings me back to my first and central concern: the retention of the city manager.

Power has been abused and misused. We have quickly gone from working in a low trust environment to a no trust environment. The cost of this type of dysfunction is just too high. I’m resigning, because people often don’t remember the individual contributions a commissioner makes to the body, they remember the decisions of the entire body. I no longer wish to be associated with the decisions of the majority voice of this body. I no longer wish to be associated with the decisions of the city manager. I refuse to be complicit in decisions just by my mere presence, even if I dissent.

During the past 18 months, it has become increasingly apparent how delicate life is, and how precious our time on this earth is. I want to work with people, and in environments where actions speak louder than words. I want to spend my valuable time working in spaces where my contributions and my perspective are valued, where my core values are in alignment with the people I work with, and where I can *successfully* spend my time working towards desperately needed systemic change.

To all of our residents and good troublemakers out there, I have acquired such deep respect and love for so many of you all. I consider myself fortunate to have worked with you and alongside you. I admire the way so many of you care and show up. Because of advocacy and activism in this city, I remain hopeful. Thank you.

As I said before, integrity is choosing courage over comfort. Integrity is choosing to *practice your values* rather than simply professing them. I can very confidently say that I have led with integrity, and now I need to resign with integrity.

For the smoothest transition and for the sake of budget season, my last meeting will be when we vote on the budget on Sept 23rd. My last day in city hall will be a week later.

Because time is of the essence, without objection, I will work with the City Clerk and the City Attorney to add a special election as an agenda item for discussion at our next general policy meeting on Aug 26th.

Thank you to all of you who have trusted me with our precious city. It has been an absolute honor to serve and lead.”

About Katie Hyson

Katie Hyson is a Report for America Corps Member at WUFT News covering racial and rural inequities in East Gainesville and north central Florida. She can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org. Click here to learn how you can support her reporting.

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