Gainesville special election voting
Pictured clockwise, from top left, are the 2021 candidates for Gainesville's special election to fill an at-large city commission seat: Cynthia Chestnut, Scherwin Henry, Matt Howland, Patrick Ingle and Gabe Kaimowitz.

These five people are running to become Gainesville’s next city commissioner in 2021

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The City of Gainesville will hold a special election to fill the vacancy of City Commission At-Large, Seat B, most recently held by Gail Johnson.

Johnson announced in August her resignation and attended on Sept. 23 her last meeting as commissioner, to vote on the budget.

Johnson cited her reasons for leaving as not wanting to be associated with the decisions of the majority of the council and City Manager Lee Feldman, who has since also announced his resignation.

“Power has been abused and misused,” Johnson said. “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.”

The candidates

Five people have registered for the special election and to replace Johnson as the Seat B At-Large representative for the city. Click each one’s name to learn more about their candidacies.

  • Cynthia Moore Chestnut: Became the first Black woman elected to the Gainesville City Commission in 1987. She’s now seeking to restore confidence in city government.
  • Scherwin L. Henry: Served as city commissioner for District 1 from 2006 to 2012 and also worked for the University of Florida for 40 years before retiring as a senior biological scientist. He’s now most concerned about city hall dysfunction.
  • Matt Howland: A public school teacher who’s worried about rising rates at Gainesville Regional Utilities.
  • Patrick O. Ingle: Retired from a career in computer software and now driving for Uber. He’s most concerned with housing affordability in the city.
  • Gabe H. Kaimowitz: Did not cooperate with WUFT’s request to arrange an interview about his candidacy. He ran against Johnson and lost in March, collecting just under 12% of the vote against her 88%.

What you need to know about voting

Election Day for the City Commission At-Large seat is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 16. Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on election day. If necessary, the city has set a runoff election date for Tuesday, January 25.

There will be early voting available, but only for three days: Friday, Nov. 12, through Sunday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at these two locations:

  • Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office, Josiah T. Walls Building, 515 North Main Street, Suite 100 (first floor), Gainesville FL 32601
  • Millhopper Branch Library, 3145 NW 43rd Street, Gainesville FL 32606

To register to vote, update your registration or check your status, visit www.VoteAlachua.com. The deadline to register to vote in the special election is Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.

The deadline to request a ballot to vote by mail is Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. For information regarding voting by mail, visit the city of Gainesville website.

About Alex Flanagan

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

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