Letters on Political Contributions, Candidates for the August Election

Obscure political committees

As reported in The Sun (“Finding Loopholes in Campaign Laws,” July 5), county commissioner nominee Raemi Eagle-Glenn, along with school board nominees Mildred Russell and Ray Holt, have agreed to black money from political committees led by the former Alachua County GOP. President Stafford Jones. Ed Braddy accepted in-kind consulting services from Jones, including serving as Treasurer of Braddy and Eagle-Glenn.

The black money Jones distributes to local candidates comes from a few of the dozens of political committees registered with Jones. These committees can be found on the Florida Division of Elections website, so there is some level of transparency. What is opaque is the tangled web of hundreds of millions of dollars laundered back and forth, within and between all its committees.

Jones has been involved throughout Florida with shadowy political committees, tied to unethical campaign shenanigans and the recruitment of third-party ghost candidates. He was the ringleader of the redistricting scandal several years ago. Now he campaigns for our school board and county commission.

These candidates know Jones well and are aware of his special skills. This is precisely why they invited him into their campaigns. These are not people who should be trusted by the public. Attention voter.

Susan Bottcher, Gainesville

More letters:

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Readers comment on charter schools, HB 7, UF removing trees and the Supreme Court

Readers Comment on Gainesville VA Hospital and Proposed Zoning Changes

More collaborative style

Only four mayoral candidates deserve serious consideration: City Commissioners David Arreola and Harvey Ward, former Gainesville Regional Utilities chief executive Ed Bielarski and former Mayor-Commissioner Gary Gordon.

The fact that Arreola and Ward proposed and seconded the purchase of the biomass plant is prima facie disqualifying. This replaced a 30-year, $1.2 billion “payable” bond pledge, funded by Bielarski, for a contractual obligation that could have been terminated “for the convenience of the government” and settled at a much lower cost.

Bielarski was a capable GRU administrator. However, he is inexperienced and behind on major civil rights, development and housing issues.

Former mayor-commissioner Gary Gordon promises a welcome return to a more collaborative style of government. During the 2018 GNV Rise debate, Gary correctly stated that the plan would not address affordable housing.

“Shame on you,” he said, “for hiding this proposal in the history of civil rights and the history of wrongs that have happened in this city…it’s not a proposal affordable housing…it’s a ruse that you’re part of…it’s a plan that the developers have clearly put in place.

Robert Mounts, Gainesville

Outstanding candidate

In the tight race for the next mayor of Gainesville, there is one who stands out with the most experience and weight that Gainesville deserves and needs. Harvey Ward served for nearly six years on the Municipal Commission, working on our most pressing issues: affordable housing, clean energy, the arts and public safety, to name a few.

As a native and father of three daughters, Harvey chose to live, work and raise a family in his hometown. I suggest you check out his website to learn more about Harvey at wardformayor.com.

Kinnon Thomas, Gainesville

Suitable for public service

Christian Newman leads people. I learned that when I was playing junior varsity football at Eastside High School. Christian was my trainer. Even though I spent most of the season on the bench, Christian’s leadership allowed me to be part of the team, in training and in games.

I have stayed in contact with Christian over the years. I crossed paths with the environmental consulting firm he owned when I was working for an environmental nonprofit. He used his passion for science and the natural world to earn a living and create jobs.

More recently, I sat on the municipal plan board with Christian. Because I am a lawyer and an urban planner, I sometimes have a shaky view of land use planning regulations. This is not the case with Christian. With every zoning issue, he started by asking “What are we trying to accomplish here?” And he listened to everyone in the room, especially the residents who took the time to attend our meetings.

I can’t think of a person more fit for public service than Christian Newman. He studies, he listens and he is a natural leader. He has my support for District 4 City Commission.

Thomas Hawkins, Gainesville

People’s Representative

A lot of people have a lot to say about the candidates currently vying for a seat on the City Commission, and I know who I’m supporting: Jo Lee Beaty. No one has worked harder for more years for the government and citizens of the City of Gainesville than Beaty, and she deserves a seat on the podium as a true representative of the people.

I am confident that she will support the commission in making decisions based on data, its ramifications, and input from all stakeholders while working to restore the city budget to a healthy state.

Connie Stern, Gainesville

education rock star

I support Kay Abbitt for the Alachua County School Board District 5 Headquarters. For the past several years, I have had the privilege of volunteering and serving on the Board of Directors of Boulware Springs Charter School, a publicly funded charter school in East Gainesville founded in 2014 by Kay and his daughter, Megan Lane. I witnessed Kay’s tireless effort to launch the school and make Boulware Springs a state-designated, financially responsible “Grade A” elementary school.

Boulware Springs’ success has been driven by Kay’s leadership and unique ability to unite students, parents, teachers, support staff and the local community. Kay fostered a culture of collaboration, in which all of the above elements worked together as a cohesive unit to achieve the school’s overall educational goals: student achievement, character, and attendance.

Kay is an education rock star with the experience, knowledge, and courage to make an immediate and meaningful impact if elected to the Alachua County School Board!

Audrey Sommer, Gainesville

Dedicated to students

From the beginning of her decision to serve on the Alachua County School Board, Tina Certain has shown dedication to the educational needs of our students. His goal is to everything of our students to acquire the skills they need to succeed.

Having taught at Santa Fe College, I know how important it is for our schools to provide the foundation for building the skills necessary for many careers. Tina Certain searched for resources that can bring research-based educational best practices to our schools.

She helped us through a difficult time, and I believe that Tina Certain must continue to serve our schools and our community.

Diana Mathews, Gainesville

Election letters

Letters to the editor endorsing nominees will be published until early voting begins on August 13. Send letters of 200 words or less to letters@gainesville.com. Please include your full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes (we only print the author’s name and city of residence).

Journalism matters. Your support matters.

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