Chestnut reflects on priorities heading into second term 

Mayor Pro Tem Cynthia Chestnut will enter her second term unopposed.
Mayor Pro Tem Cynthia Chestnut will enter her second term unopposed.
Photo by Seth Johnson

Gainesville Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut will enter her second term without a campaign season filled with forums and questionnaires after no opponent qualified to appear on the ballot. 

Chestnut told Mainstreet on Friday that she has already begun to decline candidate forums, but she still plans to attend the events. Chestnut said she wants to stay informed on the issues and the other candidates’ stances.  

“You have to be on the top of your game,” Chestnut said of the campaign period. “You’ve got to study, do research and be prepared because you want to give informed answers and you want to certainly demonstrate that you’re interested in that position.” 

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

One candidate, Ocie Alston, filled to run against Chestnut in the at-large, Seat B position but failed to pass qualifying. Chestnut said it was a relief to go unopposed, and she thanked Gainesville residents for their support.  

In the upcoming term, Chestnut said she will continue pushing for a renovated Citizens Field and MLK Jr. Multipurpose Center—known as the 8th and Waldo project, which she predicts will prompt economic spinoffs in the area.  

East Gainesville economic development has been an issue since Chestnut entered city government in 1987. But she points to recent city, county and UF Health investments in the area as signs of change—and the importance of partnerships.  

Other priorities, Chestnut said, remain and need to be addressed, like homelessness and supporting minority-owned businesses.  

“Some of the issues are the same,” Chestnut said referencing her earlier stint on the commission. “They’ve just been exacerbated a bit.”    

The City Commission approved a firm to begin renderings on the 8th and Waldo project. Chestnut said those renderings should return in the next nine months. Once in hand, the commission will need to vote to move forward and figure out funding.  

Chestnut said she would like the city to enter the bond market and finance the entire project at once. She added that the city will pursue all funding sources, like naming opportunities. From the actual field to the scoreboard, the senior center and press box, she said sponsorship opportunities will be available.  

The economic spinoff from the investment could include a hotel along Waldo Road and more businesses, Chestnut said. 

Chestnut noted that all along the corridor, from the airport in the north to the new UF Urgent Care Clinic to the south, development and investment is occurring. She highlighted the partnerships with Alachua County and UF Health to do the work.  

The same collaborative effort will be needed to address homelessness, she said, because the city can’t carry the banner alone.  

In a recent budget presentation, the city is aiming to fund the Alachua County Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless back at the $1.5 million level. The city fell short last year because of budget cuts, and City Manager Cynthia Curry said the city still needs to find the money to fully fund that item.  

Commissioner Reina Saco, the other at-large member of the City Commission, decided not to run for reelection after one of the longest terms in city history. Saco joined the commission in 2020, but because of changes to term lengths, her three-year term stretched into four and a half years.  

“She’s well informed, and, of course, all of us have learned a great deal from her,” Chestnut said. “She will be dearly missed.”   

Saco will continue her role as a commissioner through the end of 2024. Candidates James Ingle and Fareed Johnson are running for the seat.  

Like Chestnut, state Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson, D-Gainesville, will run unopposed for her third term in Tallahassee.  

Chestnut said Hinson has worked hard to keep the cities and county informed about state-level issues and actively engaged on legislation concerning Gainesville Regional Utilities.  

“We are very fortunate to have Representative Hinson return to Tallahassee because she’s very involved, knows the issues and is not afraid to share her opinions,” Chestnut said. 

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bradford Bumpkin

At least Cynthia has vision, I’ll give her that. These are her same goals from the last election. I would like her to explain how a remodel of Citizens field and the MLK center will attract new business & stimulate business growth?
The Eastside of G’ville has been neglected for the last 50 years I know of. Tons of talk, no results. Maybe the next winner of her seat can make it ‘rain’ over there.


More important East side needs jobs. Our government put zero focus on job expansion.

Her projects will do little. With the experience of the last 10+ years on grocery stores closing on East side due to rampant shop lifting unchecked by government any project will soon be disrespected and degraded.

East side needs strong law and order.


Are Cities obligated to fund high school stadiums? What % use is for non school related groups or teams?