LGBTQ+ issues were not on the ballot in Micanopy, but they were certainly on the minds of voters as they elected two new town commissioners.
The night before the election, 400 small pride flags were placed anonymously in a median downtown.
Along with the flags was a sign declaring they were placed “in protest of Commissioner Mike Roberts and other anti-LGBT+ behaviors that have taken place within the town.”
The next day, the town of Micanopy held its election for two town commission seats, including Roberts’ seat five.
No nearby business owners were aware of who put up the flags.
The protest comes after some residents accused the town of targeting pride flags with code enforcement letters, and Roberts allegedly made a comment earlier this year about two local business owners, who ended up leaving town.
Roberts declined WUFT’s request for an interview after speaking with his lawyer.
Other candidates for town commission, including Roberts’ opponent for seat five, John “Ken” Wessberg, did not want to address the flags. However, some made comments about the town being divided and wanting to bridge the gap.
“There are a lot of things going on, with some people trying to divide or put down some candidates, and I don’t think that’s the way Micanopy is,” said seat four candidate Tim Parker.
“We are neighbors, we help each other, and we’ve gotten this unfortunate reputation that’s come up recently,” said seat four candidate Kevin Putansu. “And I think the town needs to be clear on what we truly stand for.”
Town Administrator Sara Owen said she was unaware of who put up the flags, but after speaking with the town attorney decided to leave them up for election day as “political free speech” and take them down the next day.
Putansu won the race for seat four against Parker 142 votes to 91 votes. Wessberg beat Roberts for seat five 146 votes to 87 votes.
Putansu and Wessberg were sworn into office at a regular commission meeting immediately following the election Tuesday night.