On Aug. 23, Gail Johnson announced her resignation with three years left in her term and Patrick Ingle wishes to fill that seat.
Ingle, an Uber driver, comes from the private sector workforce with a background in computer software and hardware engineering.
He spoke with WUFT reporter Jacquelyn Deo about his decision to run and what he hopes to accomplish as an at-large commissioner.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Can you walk me through your decision to run?
I have always been interested in politics running for office, probably going back to 19-whenever, and have always been into computer software and hardware engineering. I pursued my career there and am now semi-retired. I saw an opportunity to enter and thought, “OK, let me go ahead and enter the race. This is a local race and a way you could start out.” Being a senior now and working throughout a lot of my life, I want to give back to the government to help and use my expertise, such as my negotiation skills, tech skills and anywhere organizational.
What issues do you hope to address in the position?
On affordable housing
The rent is just going up and up. I like to joke with my Uber riders, “They’re building more housing that you can’t afford.” I would like to introduce maybe even rent control, but it has to be a win-win for both the landlord and a tenant. Otherwise, people would protest and reject your issue. Also with affordable housing, we have to have a strong police force that is technologically advanced and educated to handle different types of situations. I know we are very polarized in this environment, so we need to also educate police. I very much support a strong police force with affordable housing.
On restaurant worker employment
With the restaurant workers not coming back to work and who want better deals, okay. With that, we can make restaurant workers, even retail workers, a protected class from the violence. For me, I see too many stories of restaurant workers being assaulted, which I think is dangerous, putting yourselves on the line out there. When I was driving during the pandemic, I put myself out there. They need to be a protected class and we need to help sweeten their compensation or somehow develop a restaurant retail retirement disability package in addition to what else is out there. We do have something to say, “He’s gonna do something to help more with your workers.”
On personal communication and feedback
I’m getting a lot of questionnaires from different groups. which I really appreciate because as the at-large candidate, I represent the entire population of Gainesville. So I want to know what other issues people want. In rule with governing, I’m going to listen to both sides and come up with a solution that is good for both. I need to hear what the rest of Gainesville is interested in, so if you see me eating at a restaurant, feel free to come up to engage in a friendly conversation because I’m very open. I don’t want to disturb you when you are eating, but you can go ahead and approach me and engage in conversation. If you have issues you want to raise, you could go ahead and raise them with me.
What do you hope to accomplish within your term?
The first thing I would want to accomplish is to bring some order chaos in the current board. I am watching meetings there and I see the residents of Gainesville are very angry, very upset, and really hate the board. I learned a long time ago you cannot accomplish anything if everybody’s fighting or arguing. One person has to step up and be humble, empathetic and be a positive influence to the board. I am a positive influence to my children and my friends. In my first interview last week, it looked like I’m already being a positive influence in my campaign to the board, which is good. That means that’s less time to get the board back in order, and more time in deciding on issues, petitions and proposals.
What are some experiences and accomplishments you’d like to highlight?
Like I said, this is an entry-level position. I have no political experience. My experience comes back from the private sector workforce, resolving any conflicts in my own personal life and solutions that help. As it is my chance to come into the election, I do worry about the experienced candidates. They may be more set in their ways, which then could create more conflict than solutions for the current board. So I’m really concerned about them entering and getting on the board, because they could just create more problems. So, I’m the fresh face of the board.
Are there any specific projects of Commissioner Johnson’s that you hope to bring to completion?
Not this time, but I’m still looking at her projects and going over in their areas to see what would be beneficial. If people want me to continue her projects, I will do it. I work for people. If I’m elected, I’m working for you. And if you have projects that Gail Johnson wants me to continue, I will continue.
However, I do support Gail Johnson’s concerns, especially on her collaboration to reduce racial and socioeconomic disparities. I am a father of biracial children and my team-building skills will be beneficial for building the collaboration needed to reduce these disparities. An educated police force will help and not hinder the growth of minorities regardless of race.
In her resignation, Commissioner Johnson cited an inability to make systemic change because of the majority of the decisions from the commission and the working environment of city administration.
Do you share those concerns? How do you plan to approach those obstacles?
I do. I see in recent meetings, there has been better improvement in cooperation on the board. I bring up the question: is my campaign being a positive influence this early? Because I know I wouldn’t be a positive influence on a campaign, and therefore on the board. So the first thing I need to do is get organized and really get the people back to governing, not fighting like we’re used to. I do see positive movement from the board and wanting to actually get back to governing. So maybe by the time the election comes around, everybody’s cooperating and we don’t need to be in chaos for whichever candidate wins.
Do you have any other ideas for responding to the staffing shortage after the recent resignations?
If there’s a way for those charter officers to rescind the resignations and wait until after the election, I would prefer that. There might be a policy like – Gail Johnson couldn’t rescind her resignation once it was set, but there might be charter officers who could. I know the city clerk did rescind her resignation, which I’m glad. I wish the city attorney could rescind her resignation, but I think she got offered a job. Even with new people coming on board, we still need the staff behind the scenes to help with navigation.
How would you approach GRU’s financial dilemma and the calls from residents for lower rates?
I’m still looking at that. It’s actually one of the questions I have on a questionnaire. My rates at GRU are low. Probably because my landlord has put in a better AC and switched to LED lighting as well. I’m still looking at ways to improve the GRU rates without by definitely issue that is on the table for me. Everybody wants to lower electric bills, and if we can lower our household expenses, including rent and electricity bills, we have more available income to spend in the community.
Is there anything you would like to add or clarify?
I do have a website that I’m gonna be getting a domain for. It’s called Campaign.PatrickIngle.Info. The format is a timeline of my journey to public office. I do update it when events and activities come along. I also keep my financial record there, before I file my state forms. You can actually submit any issues that you want me to look at and consider. You can also contact me through that page.