Matt Howland and Scherwin Henry

Matt Howland and Scherwin Henry are two of five candidates who qualified to run in the special election to replace outgoing Commissioner Gail Johnson.

Five candidates, including two former Gainesville City Commissioners, have filed to run for the open commission seat.

The resignation of Commissioner Gail Johnson, which is effective Oct. 2, created the opening for the at-large post.

The special election to replace Johnson is set for Nov. 16, and qualifying for the race ended at noon Friday.

Cynthia Chestnut, a former mayor, city commissioner, county commissioner and state representative, and Scherwin Henry, a former two-term city commissioner, are among the candidates running.

Joining them are nonprofit organizer and former public school teacher Matt Howland, retiree and Uber/Lyft driver Patrick O. Ingle, and former attorney and regular candidate for office Gabe H. Kaimowitz (who is also known as Gabriel Hillel).

Chestnut: In 1987, Chestnut became the first Black woman elected to the city commission and was appointed mayor in 1989. She served in the Florida House, representing the 23rd District from 1990 to 2000, and won two terms on the Alachua County Board of Commissioners, serving from 2002 to 2010. Most recently she has served as the chair of the Democratic Party in Alachua County and ran unsuccessfully for chair of the Florida Democratic Party earlier this year, finishing third. 

Henry: Henry served as the District I commissioner from 2006-2012. He last ran for office in Gainesville in 2020 for the commission at-large seat currently held by Reina Saco.

Howland: Howland was a public school teacher at Westwood Elementary School when he left to start Youth Combine, a nonprofit youth fitness organization, according to the biography on his campaign website. In 2017, he moved to Washington, D.C., to begin working with military and service organizations. Howland moved back to Gainesville during the pandemic as his job transitioned to remote work.

Ingle: Ingle, who is listed in election filings as having controlling interest in media and technology company, PressPage Entertainment Inc., told WCJB that he is a retiree and that people around town might best recognize him as their Uber or Lyft driver.

Kaimowitz: Kaimowitz, who is listed in election filings as being the sole proprietor of Butterfly City LLC, has previously worked as an attorney. He has run several times for city offices, most recently in 2021, when Johnson defeated him for the same at-large post.

Voters have until Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. to request a mail-in ballot. Early voting will be Nov. 12-14.

Mainstreet Daily News Correspondent

Camille Broadway is freelance writer and editor. She has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and journalism education. Bad speller. Baseball fan. OG sci-fi nerd. She's always looking for good story ideas.

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