Vote Yes on all the Local Gainesville/Alachua County Ballot Initiatives
This November we have the opportunity to elect a president, a congressperson, a statehouse representative. But most important to our lives here in Alachua County might be the 11 local amendments that were vetted and passed by our local commissions. They help to protect our environment, to improve equity in our community, and support our children’s education.
The Alachua County Democratic Party recommends a “yes” vote on ALL 11 local amendments.
Listed below are descriptions of all amendments (courtesy of voteyeslocal.com) and why we support them.
County Ballot Referendums
These Referenda were mostly passed by the County Charter Review Commission, a group of local citizens and leaders who review the Charter on a 10-year basis to update and review the charter. This year this group went through and updated outdated language, but also took up forward looking proposals on environmental protection and equity in our community.
Renewal of the Existing One Mill Ad Valorem Tax for School District Operating Expenses
Our schools need our support now more than ever. This renews a one-mill for critical education programs in our community including the arts, libraries, career and technical education, and technology improvements.
County Charter Amendment Establishing County Growth Management Area
Our environment is sacred, but with increasing population there is more and more pressure to develop outside of our cities and into sensitive environmental land. This creates an area outside of the natural growth areas of cities that will help protect rural farm and environmental sensitive areas from urban sprawl.
Relationship Between County and Municipal Ordinances for Protection of Certain Natural Resources
Our environment is an ecosystem, one that goes beyond city lines. This amendment gives the authority for the county commission to put in place countywide environmental protections, which gives flexibility to cities to strengthen those protections, but not to weaken environmental protection.
Identification and Elimination of Racial and Gender Bias in Alachua County Policies
Our community, and the nation, is grappling with how best to address racial and gender discrimination. This amendment mandates that the county commission annually exams it’s policies for racial and gender bias, to ensure there is regular accountability to create an equitable community for all.
County Charter Amendment Establishing Alachua County Affordable Housing Trust Fund
Affordable housing is one of the most pressing, and most difficult economic issues we face. This referendum creates an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to create and sustain affordable housing in our community, to ensure everyone has a safe place to live.
County Charter Amendment Concerning Candidate Treasurer Report Requirements
Currently, all paperwork for the supervisor of elections must be in paper form. This amendment allows for the digital version of campaign finance reports to be submitted, reducing paper waste and improving flexibility.
County Charter Cleanup Amendment Removing Unconstitutional Provisions
Some provisions of the Alachua County Charter were put in before there were changes to the Florida Constitution, leaving them in the charter but unconstitutional. This removes those outdated and unconstitutional sections of the county charter.
City of Gainesville Ballot Referendums
By city charter, every 10 years the city of Gainesville shall form a City Charter Review Commission to review the city charter and bring forward recommended changes to the voters of Gainesville. This diverse commission made of 11 Gainesville citizens placed the following referendums on the ballot.
Changing the Name of the Charter Officer “Clerk of the Commission” to “City Clerk”
A fairly benign change to the charter that updates the language to match other municipalities in Florida. It doesn’t change any of the Clerk’s responsibilities or anything material about the position.
Eliminating Restrictions on Construction of Paved Surfaces on City-Owned Land
For decades the city has attempted to create a Hogtown Creek greenway that is accessible to people with mobility issues and open to all of our residents. One provision in the charter disallows this by putting erroneous blocks in. This amendment would remove those blocks and allow a new bike and pedestrian trail for our families to enjoy.
Limiting Commission Authority to Dispose of Certain Utility Systems
In 2018 city voters overwhelmingly supported keeping GRU local. This amendment would strengthen that, ensuring that the decision to sell all utility’s owned by city (electric, water, wastewater, natural gas, and telecommunications) are in the hands of the city voters, not politicians.
Creating a Preamble to the Charter
The city of Gainesville previously had no preamble to the Charter, which outlines the values and goals of the city. Preambles have no force of law, but this new Gainesville preamble it makes a strong statement for our values as a community:
“We, the people of the City of Gainesville, under the constitution and laws of the State of Florida, value the benefits of local self-government and an honest and accountable commission-management government, and hereby affirm this charter. By this action, we increase citizen participation and promote equal opportunity of broad cultural diversity of the city and inclusiveness that focuses on justice and equality. Further, we affirm the values of representative democracy, professional management, and environmental stewardship.”