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Hardacre, Brown, Miller should be re-elected to Alachua City Commission

EDITORIAL

Hardacre, Brown, Miller should be re-elected to Alachua City Commission

City of Alachua voters will soon cast ballots to elect three commissioners. The three incumbents, Dayna Miller (Seat 3), Shirley Green Brown (Seat 4) and Gary Hardacre (Seat 5), are facing a wave of challengers – all political newcomers. Seat 3 challengers are Malcom Dixon and Edward Lamour Ford. The sole Seat 4 challenger is James Szjczuk. Commission hopefuls for Seat 5 include Dietra Howard, Douglas Hancock, and Gary Kocher.

Endorsement of Dayna Miller for Seat 3

City Commissioner Dayna Miller has previously served on the Citizen’s Advisory Task Force and the City of Alachua Planning and Zoning Board. While serving on that board, Miller offered thoughtful debate and was conscientious in consistently researching the issues on which she was expected to cast a vote. When sometimes controversial issues arose, Miller has been quick to demonstrate thoughtful questioning and careful analysis and logic to substantiate her votes. During her time in Alachua she has established a track record of community service and leadership with local civic organizations, such as the Lion’s Club and Kiwanis. She is also a leader in the private sector business world, holding a management position with Waste Pro, a company she has been with for over 11 years. Miller’s life experiences, business acumen and fresh ideas will be a welcome addition to the Commission. While she is relatively new to politics, being appointed to complete the remainder of Commissioner Ben Boukari, Jr.’s term when he stepped down on Feb. 12, 2018, Miller has shown she is up to the challenge of leadership in this City.

Endorsement of Shirley Green Brown for Seat 4

Alachua City Commissioner Shirley Green Brown has deep roots in Alachua, having lived here for more than 40 years, working, worshipping and raising her family. In addition to her tenure on the Commission, Brown has an impressive resume of professional and volunteer experiences. Brown was a teacher for many years at both Alachua and Irby elementary schools. She is a strong advocate for youth and the elderly and a staunch supporter for a healthier community. In addition to volunteer work at her church, she has served in numerous civic organizations and genuinely loves her community and her neighbors and listens with an open mind and heart to constituents citywide. Brown has truly been a quiet, yet extraordinarily unifying leader in Alachua. Her experience prior to and while on the commission gives her a decisive edge as she is familiar with issues both historically and presently before the commission. And Brown has proven herself to be a community-minded, honest and involved individual with a calming demeanor even in the face of contentious issues.

Political newcomers vying for seats 3 and 4 on the Alachua City Commission would do well to get involved, and gain knowledge of how governments work and experience through civic/municipal volunteer boards. The occasion will arise in future years for them to seek public office, and armed with knowledge and experience gained by board service, they may each one day be fine commissioners.

Endorsement of Gary Hardacre

Seat 5 appears to be the race to watch as incumbent Commissioner Gary Hardarce faces off against Dietra Howard, Douglas Hancock and Gary Kocher.

Alachua Commissioner Gary Hardacre brings much to the table. Hardacre’s heart is in public service. He has served his country as a veteran of the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam Era, and he has served the interests of the citizens of this city well, publicly and privately. Due to his longevity in this community, Hardacre brings insight into the nuances of local issues that affect citizens as well as patience and an open mind. He spends an enormous amount of his personal time helping those most in need. His extensive track record on volunteerism in schools, senior centers and service organizations is remarkable.

From supporting economic development and the business community, to helping champion the ongoing resurfacing of local streets, to updating neighborhood parks, to bringing improvements to the Hathcock, Sr. Center, Hardacre has fought for all corners of Alachua. As the City’s liaison to the Suwannee River Water Management District, he has been a strong advocate for natural resources, helping to bring $1.4 million to the City for long-term protection of Mill Creek and Mill Creek Sink, among other projects. During Hardacre’s tenure, the City has placed one police officer in every public school in Alachua and expanded recreation and cultural opportunities. He has helped lead Alachua to where it is today, and he has the passion to continue to represent all of Alachua with a balanced, yet critical approach that is vital to continued success. We believe Hardacre has served the citizens well during his tenure as commissioner.

While challenger Douglas Hancock boasts of his status as a State Certified Electrical Sign Contractor and as a business owner on Main Street as his bedrock qualifications to serve on the Alachua City Commission, he lacks knowledge of local government and issues –– current and past –– on Main Street and throughout the city. As a relative newcomer, Hancock is grossly lacking in genuine community involvement, experience and knowledge. Unlike Hardacre, a 31 year established citizen, Hancock has moved around to more cities than many others will visit in a lifetime. Hancock’s stated agenda plainly shows he does not understand how a city manager/commission government works. His declared intentions to singularly direct city staff to carry out his wishes are illegal (charter violations) and he appears opposed to working within the appropriate framework of the city commission, as one member of five on a collegial body.

Incumbent Hardacre has demonstrated in the years he has served that he considers the welfare of the community as a whole and not the interests of any single individual or business. We believe Hardacre has a genuine concern for the well-being of the City of Alachua as well as for all residents. His record demonstrates that he diligently considers many positions before making decisions. Hardacre isn’t in anyone’s back pocket.

Although Alachua’s troubled times seem far in the past, voters must recall that just a few short years ago, the commission was temporarily derailed from its comprehensive plan and progress toward self-sustainability. At times, just one commissioner was able to create gridlock on the commission. For those who do not remember, that former city commissioner, Tamara Robbins, supported lawsuits against the City of Alachua that cost substantial City of Alachua taxpayer dollars. Yet Ms. Robbins, whose avowed agenda was to create chaos at City Hall and “bankrupt” the city, is actively supporting Doug Hancock. Ms. Robbins and associates, known in years past as the Alachua Leadership Alliance (ALA), are once again seeking to slide their “no-growth, anti-business” platform into City Hall – this time through Hancock. Also not surprisingly, the tactics Hancock uses to garner support seem to come directly from Tamara Robbins’ playbook.

Their misinformation campaign, either intentional, or due to a lack of basic knowledge, is patently unfair to the voting public and can have devastating results for this City. Blanket promises to put restrooms in neighborhood parks without due consideration for the public safety concerns of patrons and neighbors is not only not good governing – it is reckless. A new fire station near Turkey Creek? A good idea … but guess what, voters? That is already in the works. Criticizing Alachua Police Department tactics while not being privy to the inside information of ongoing law enforcement efforts is arrogant, divisive and further evidence that Hancock has neither the knowledge nor judgment to lead this community. Voters must question the legitimacy of a candidate who aligns himself with a group intent on destroying the very city he claims he wants to represent.

Voters put their faith in the commission as a whole to make wise decisions for the community. The looming and unanswered question is exactly what kind of commissioner would any of the challengers be – given their lack of experience at any level of city government? Commissioners who are inexperienced in City government are unlikely to understand the issues facing Alachua. And just as importantly, the lack of commitment to community service raises questions about their dedication to this City. When you cast your votes on April 10, consider those who have already objectively demonstrated a desire for the betterment of Alachua and an ability to make good decisions on your behalf.

The Alachua County Today editorial board takes great pride in endorsing Dayna Miller for Seat 3, Shirley Green Brown for Seat 4 and Gary Hardacre for Seat 5 for the Alachua City Commission.

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