Gainesville’s Mayoral Race: Your Voting Guidebook

The University of Florida’s College Democrats organized a mayoral debate on Monday, February 4 in an effort to introduce the candidates to students. Three out of the four candidates running for mayor attended the event: current mayor Lauren Poe, former city commissioner Jenn Powell and Marlon Bruce. The fourth candidate, Jennifer Reid, was absent. The event provided about 70 students the opportunity to get to know their potential future mayor. If you missed it or may have been a little confused as to who each person was, here’s a guidebook to help you choose your potential future mayor.

Lauren Poe

Lauren Poe is the current mayor of Gainesville and a two-time Gator. Before entering local politics, he went into education and was a middle school teacher and eventual college professor at Santa Fe Community College. He still teaches in the dual enrollment program at Santa Fe. In his six years while serving as the mayor of Gainesville, he has banned plastic bags from being sold in stores, illegalized conversion therapy for minors in Gainesville, supported local arts programs and worked to unify East and West Gainesville. He is endorsed by Former Florida Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.

Photo courtesy of Sister Cities International

He plans to continue to unify the two sides of Gainesville, reform the criminal justice system and continue to further LGBTQIA+ rights.

Marlon Bruce

Marlon Bruce is the youngest candidate on this list at 20 years old. Currently, a student at Santa Fe Community College, Bruce was the vice president of the Young Americans for Liberty at Santa Fe as well as a senator and the attorney general at at the college. During the 2018 election cycle, he actively supported U.S House of Representative Ted Yoho and state Senator Keith Perry. He also worked on state Representative Chuck Clemons’ re-election.

Recently, there was some controversy about whether Bruce was allowed to run for mayor. The law is that a candidate cannot run for mayor without at least having proof of six months of residency. Bruce’s voter registration states his residency was in his hometown of Ocala during the 2018 election. He claims he simply did not change it during that election but has proof of residency in Gainesville for more than six months.

He is running on a platform about affordable housing, strengthening public safety and repairing public roads.

Jenn Powell

Jenn Powell made Gainesville headlines back in 2017 when she ran (but ultimately lost) against the incumbent city commissioner, Helen Warren. However this time, she is running against her daughter’s former college professor and current mayor of Gainesville, Lauren Poe. Although she’s made headlines again, her political roots actually originate in 2015 when she first started to work on Bernie Sanders’ campaign while she served on Gainesville’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and Citizens’ Advisory Committee for Community Development. She still holds that position today. She also is a part-time legal assistant as well as a local business owner.

Photo courtesy of Jenn Powell for Gainesville

Powell is running a campaign that is centered on affordable housing, public transportation and a raise in minimum wages in Gainesville. Her platform stems from her 29 years of living in and experiencing Gainesville.

Jennifer Reid

Jennifer Reid is a Gainesville native who currently owns the small business Klinc Treats and Designs and works as the company’s legal assistant. Klinc Treats and Designs is a t-shirt design company that has a presence in Alachua County. She does not have any prior municipal government but told The Alligator that she wanted to run because she wanted to inspire other mothers and struggling citizens in Gainesville. On top of running, she is also attempting to graduate with a master’s degree in criminal justice.

She aims to work on transparency, the city’s budget and unity in the community. She also wants to focus on the RTS bus drivers and civil servants in Gainesville.