Alachua County to change investment policy, continues ballot initiative

County Commissioner Ken Cornell speaks at a joint meeting with the Gainesville City Commission.
County Commissioner Ken Cornell speaks at a joint meeting with the Gainesville City Commission.
Photo by Seth Johnson

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted Tuesday to stop investing in corporations and to continue with its charter amendment referendum that will appear before voters in November.  

During commissioner comment at the end of the meeting, Commissioner Ken Cornell made a motion that directs staff to eliminate corporate investments from Alachua County’s investment policy.  

The motion comes after public commenters spoke against the BOCC owning stock in Lockheed Martin. Commenters spoke against the company while asking the BOCC to issue a ceasefire resolution for the war in Gaza. 

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Florida law prohibits counties from removing individual corporate investments for anything other than fiscal factors. But Cornell’s motion will do away with all corporate investments.  

He said the motion not only deals with investments into the military industrial complex but any companies that don’t align with the BOCC’s values.

The motion received unanimous support, with Commissioner Chuck Chestnut absent. 

Chair Mary Alford said the county has only been investing in corporations for the past four or five years.  

The BOCC also continued down the path to put a single-member district question on the November ballot. The referendum opens the door to reverse a 2022 ballot initiative, initiated by state legislators, that changed Alachua County to a single-member district system.  

The ballot question will read as follows: “Shall the five members of the board of county commissioners of Alachua County, Florida, be elected by all electors within the county at large?” 

A “Yes” vote will reverse the single-member district system into an at-large system. A “no” vote will keep the single-member district system approved in 2022.  

An at-large system would mean every voter in Alachua County would vote for each member of the BOCC. A single-member district system would mean citizens only votes for the BOCC member who represents their district.  

The Tuesday vote authorizes staff to advertise the upcoming ballot initiative.  

County Attorney Sylvia Torres said staff recommends advertising on its website, now approved for legal notices, while also using newspaper legal notices.  

“Theoretically, just the legal notice on the webpage should be enough, but because that’s new, if this is important to you, what we’re suggesting is that you also notice it in the newspaper,” Torres said.  

She recommended the BOCC advertise through both sources for three different deadlines provided by state statutes and the county’s charter.  

Commissioners said the 2022 ballot initiative left voters confused. Several commissioners said voters they’ve talked to didn’t realize that they couldn’t vote for everyone on the BOCC.  

For the upcoming election, Cornell said the single-member district system means voters in his district won’t have a voice since his seat isn’t up for reelection.  

State legislators started the 2022 ballot initiative after saying voters in Alachua County felt underrepresented and had asked for a change to single-member districts. The initiative passed with 51.5% of the vote.  

The BOCC—then comprised of the same five members—voted unanimously to oppose the proposal in 2021, and individual commissioners advocated against it throughout the 2022 election season. The commissioners have said that disinformation before the election confused voters who didn’t want single-member districts.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify commissioner positions on single-member districts.

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Governor Desantis , Please intervene in this issue where the County Commission in denial are trying to Bully the previous vote they do not agree with. They are out of control freaks that take money from Alachua County taxpayers like they are the Biden Bullies. We need a cease and desist order down here , and ask their Leader Alford for our refund while she was in office illegally.

Real Gainesville Citizen and Voter

The usual suspects weigh in with their usual authoritarian complaints. You’re fired.


Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Even for SOS Gainesville Wokesters.


Agree completely. This will result in the same type of decision principles that got us the wood pellet plant billion dollar fiasco. Decisions made on delusional “social justice” principles that ignore common sense and fundamental good/bad investment criteria.

We don not elect adults in this city.


Regarding investments into the “military industrial complex” and any “companies that don’t align with the BOCC’s values” …To the spokesperson for BOCC: (1) Please articulate what specifically ARE your BOCC values? (2) Which companies / entities will you as the BOCC be investing in from this point forward? Perhaps I have missed something but hopefully the good folks at BOCC will be able to answer these two questions. After all – you’re the local government and I am sure you elected officiuals are focused primarily on only sound investments.


This is exactly the reason why we need single member district vote. I wonder if they’ll want to go for the best two out of three when they lose again.

Bill Whitten

The biggest problem with single member districts is how they get drawn. The irresistible use of the gerrymander, whether to favor a politician, party, ethnicity, or economic group, consistently undermines our democracy.
IMO, population density is the factor best representing the common interests of residents. Rural, suburban and urban areas should each have their own districts and representatives. A district would not need to be contiguous and compactness, while desirable, would only be a secondary consideration. Rural voters wouldn’t be drowned out by urban centers while urban residents wouldn’t get divided up. Win/win.