Gainesville Mayor

This race is nonpartisan, open to all voters

Nine candidates are seeking to fill the seat of outgoing Mayor Lauren Poe, who is term-limited.

The race will appear on the August primary ballot open to all voters within the city limits. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two will advance to a November runoff.

News4Jax sent a questionnaire to each candidate asking about their background and their views on several issues. Scroll down to read the responses of those seeking your vote -- in their own words.

Note: Responses are sorted alphabetically and are presented exactly as submitted, with no editing by News4Jax staff.

  CANDIDATES

David Arreola

Occupation: solar array installer

Age: 31

Your family: First generation American

Education: MBA

Political experience: 2017-2022 Gainesville City Commissioner

What do you see as the top three issues you’ll likely face while holding this office?

  • The top three issues facing Gainesville are the effect of climate change on the cost of housing, cost of living, and jobs that pay living wages.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

  • I am proposing the most comprehensive platform with resources, plans, and building on previous work to make Gainesville a safer, better place to live.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

  • I want to be remembered for stabilizing our housing market, preparing for climate change, and creating more jobs than ever before by 2030.

Campaign website: davidarreola.com

Campaign’s social media site(s): facebook.com/davidarreolaformayor


Ed Bielarski

Occupation: Retired General Manager

Age: 65

Your family: (No response)

Education: BA in Accounting/MBA

Political experience: First time

What do you see as the top three issues you’ll likely face while holding this office?

  1. Ending the City Commission’s addiction to the Utility customer’s money.
  2. Ending the war on single-family housing.
  3. Creating a path for affordable renewable energy.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

  • I am the former General Manager of utility (GRU) and have already saved the customers $1 billion by negotiating out of a punitive biomass contract. I am a former CPA, with a BA in Accounting and an MBA along with 40 years of business experience.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

  • I brought trust and faith back to local government.

Campaign website: VoteEdforMayor.com

Campaign’s social media site(s): facebook.com/profile.php?id=100077924311827


Ansaun J. Fisher

This candidate has not responded to email and telephone invitations to submit the News4Jax candidate questionnaire.


Gary Gordon

Occupation: retired

Age: 69

Your family: married

Education: Journalism degree, NU ‘74

Political experience: former Gvl City Commissioner and Mayor-Commission, activist, former director non-profit working with municipal gov’t. for 19 years

What do you see as the top three issues you’ll likely face while holding this office?

  1. Restoring collegial participatory democracy to Commission meetings
  2. Land Use and Zoning to protect neighborhoods from commercial and investor intrusion
  3. Public safety: the hiring and retaining of GPD officers to fight crime.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

  • I am the only candidate who has been a Mayor, who was elected city-wide, and who has dealt with the whole array of city issues including GRU as Mayor. I’m also the only candidate who has 19 years experience as an Executive Dir. working for a merchant association on issues similar to what we face downtown. And I’m the only one running who was an activist, meaning I know how to challenge authority, to challenge “the experts.” No one else running can claim this much experience working with this many people.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

  • Stopping development intrusion into existing neighborhoods and restoring a practice of participatory democracy at City Hall. Also full budget accountability and doing my best at keeping taxes and utility rates down.

Campaign website: GordonforMayor.NationBuilder.com

Campaign’s social media site(s): Facebook - facebook.com/profile.php?id=100082112676104


Gabriel Hillel

Occupation: Whistle-Blower

Age: 87

Your family: Divorced, two children, four grandchildren, two great grand children

Education: B.S. journalism, University of Wisconsin; all course work complete, M.A. radio TV, U. of Illinois; MA in Communication, University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando; J.D. New York University School of Law; A.A. graphic design and B.A> cum laude, mass media development, DeVry U. on-line.i

Political experience: Four previous campaigns for an at-large seat in Gainesville, FL

What do you see as the top three issues you’ll likely face while holding this office?

  1. Restoration of a strong manager (charter officer) form of government with mayor playing only a presiding role as chair of a City Commission
  2. Restoration of transparency and open meetings after years of avoidance of the state public records and opening meetings laws
  3. Reparations to the black community.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

  • Other candidates are committed to maintaining the Jim Crow de facto structures which were good enough for their ancestors in Gainesville and elsewhere. I have researched that history, and as appropriate sued to force changes. For instance, the University of Florida and UF Health pulled off the greatest hospital fraud in the nation to close the old community hospital serving poor and black people, and using additional federal funds to create a state of the art children’s hospital which handles tough pediatric cases from around the world while ignoring the everyday problems of local black and poor children.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

  • Creation and implementation of a Florida Freedom Summer of 2024 60 years after the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, with a Florida Freedom Party delegation to support a candidate other than Joe Biden at the national Democratic Party convention.

Campaign website: None so far

Campaign’s social media site(s): gabrielhillel@gmail.com


Adam Rosenthal

This candidate has not responded to email and telephone invitations to submit the News4Jax candidate questionnaire.


Donald E. Shepherd Sr.

Occupation: Retired from the UF

Age: 68

Your family: Nancy Shepherd

Education: Beyond High School

Political experience: FourteenYears presenting the People work with city finances board and many other boards. I’m in the city’s PDF; where you can see my work and commitment to the City of Gainesville Fl

What do you see as the top three issues you’ll likely face while holding this office?

  1. Stabilize the City Of Gainesville finances, workforce, and programs.
  2. Create income for the City without taxing the people.
  3. Low the electric bills; I have a plan to low households to 89 dollars a month and 118 for business. (give or take a dollar or two)

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

  • I have the actual knowledge to do the things; that need to be done. Other Candidate say they will do this or that; but have no idea how to do it. It’s one thing to say it and another to actually do it.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

  • Donald E. Shepherd Sr., The People Representative; the one that put Gainesville back together; for the People.

Campaign website: Coming

Campaign’s social media site(s): FB


July Thomas

Occupation: Barback

Age: 31

Your family: The streets

Education: MS in Physics, ABD on a PhD but I’m busy

Political experience: Let’s just say my friends don’t call the cops, they call me.

What do you see as the top three issues you’ll likely face while holding this office?

  1. This city needs someone who actually likes it in charge or else the chaotic investor-driven development in town will never be appropriately directed.
  2. This city needs someone who actually likes it in charge or else the people who work for the city will continue to be ground down by mismanagement and weak leadership.
  3. This city needs someone who actually likes it in charge or else the local economy will be destroyed in favor of corporate businesses who funnel profits out of it.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

  • Everyone else running is in it for the valor of being a politician. I am not. This dorky process has only made me less cool. But unlike everyone else, I actually mean something to this city. I am what you all have wrought.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

  • I do not run to be remembered, only to make the little difference I am capable of making in this world before I am returned to dust.

Campaign website: (None listed)

Campaign’s social media site(s): @julyformayor


Harvey Ward Jr.

This candidate has not responded to email and telephone invitations to submit the News4Jax candidate questionnaire.