Redistricting reshapes slate of candidates

Ed Book, the chief of police at Santa Fe College, filed to run for the Gainesville City Commission District 3 seat back in February. On Valentine’s Day to be exact.

He proved a popular candidate. Law enforcement officers, the previous county sheriff, former city and county commissioners, and several fellow Santa Fe employees all contributed early on to his campaign. He raised more than $21,000 between February and April.

Like many candidates these days, Book initially spent money on a website. Otherwise he was frugal. He bought stamps. Name tags, Thank you notes. Three sets of business cards.

But not a single yard sign, T-shirt or piece of direct mail.

He even bought $250 worth of yard sign holders, but absolutely nothing to put in them.

Book, like several candidates, was in something of a campaign limbo, waiting for the city commission to finalize the redistricting process. The legally required redrawing of district lines stretched from October 2021 to May 9, and ultimately redrew Book into District 2.

“I had materials and yard signs designed some time ago,” Book said in a telephone interview with Mainstreet Daily News. “But I did not have them made because the redistricting process was underway. I was worried that if anything switched, I would be spending donators money needlessly so I held off printing materials.”

Although switching districts means he also switched opponents, Book said it hasn’t changed his approach.

Ed Book Gainesville City Commission District 2 campaign election materials
Gainesville City Commission District 2 candidate Ed Book waited to print  materials until he confirmed which district seat he would be running for following the new redistricting maps were announced. 

“I don’t feel like I am running against someone else,” Book said. “I’m simply running to make voters aware that if I get in office, I am going to do a good job. I’m going to show common sense. I am going to be practical, and I’m going to be someone they feel good about supporting.”

Armed with new maps from Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office, Book said he often starts conversations with voters by helping them locate their district.

“The challenge for all district candidates will be [to] ensure that voters are aware that they are, in fact, their candidate,” Book said.

Book was one of three candidates who have filed to switch districts. Fellow District 3 candidate Jo Lee Beaty also moved into District 2. While former District 4 candidate Dejeon Cain changed to District 3.

After the new maps were finalized, the Gainesville City Clerk’s Office, which handles much of the administrative work of city elections, notified all the registered candidates of the changes to the district boundaries and advised them to check to see if they were affected, said Rossana Passaniti, the city’s public information officer.

“It is the practice of the City Clerk’s Office to provide beneficial information that may affect candidates,” said City Clerk Omichele Gainey via email. “We seek to ensure every candidate is well-informed and prepared throughout their race, so information we have, we share.”

The candidates, however, are responsible for checking the new boundaries and re-filing paperwork. They have until the end of the qualifying period at noon on June 17 to refile if necessary.

City of Gainesville Commission Districts map May 2022
City of Gainesville Commission Districts map revised May 2022.

Like Book, Cain said he was following the redistricting process closely. Cain said he delayed filing until after the new boundaries were set, but still ended up filing in District 4 and had to refile paperwork for District 3. 

“There’s a line where I live at that I looked at and said ‘Oh boy, that’s too close to District 3!,” Cain said. 

Cain, who owns Fortitude Security, ran for one of the commissions at-large seats in 2012, and has remained active in the community, currently serving on the Gainesville Human Rights Board and the Alachua County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, which he chairs.

Because of his committee work, including a stint on the city’s development review board, Cain said he is very familiar with his new district.

“District 3 isn’t too far from District 4,” Cain said. “Everything is connected together.”

Cain said he is planning to go door-to-door in his new district and introduce himself to voters.

“We don’t have a lot of time [until the election],” Cain said.  “I think we can still be effective, and I think we can still operate in those parameters.”

 

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