Will Susan Baird's Win Change Everything?
The big news in the Alachua County elections is Republican newcomer, Susan Baird's victory over Democratic Chair of the County Commission, Cynthia Chestnut.
So does this indicate the start of big changes in the political direction of Alachua County?
Cynthia Chestnut has been involved in local government since the 80's, serving in the State House of Representatives, the Gainesville City Commission and as Alachua County Commissioner for District 4. Add to that, the fact that a Republican hasn't been elected to the Alachua County Board of Commissioners for over 20 years, and you get an upset that still has the county buzzing.
Sheriff Sadie Darnell said, "There's been a general dis-satisfaction with the citizens in Alachua County in that their government officials, especially elected officials have not been listening to them and focusing on what they see the issues of our county and what we face and I think there's just been a humongous validation of that with this outcome."
Democratic Sheriff Sadie Darnell said her endorsement of Republican Susan Baird was not about party affiliation, but rather about what is best for Alachua County.
Darnell's endorsement of Baird is seen as a major factor in the election outcome by local conservative talk radio host, Jake Fuller. And he sees this election as an indicator of a change in attitude in the county overall. Fuller said, "I think this really shows that people are getting fed up with the status quo."
Fuller's co-host and former Gainesville City Commissioner. Ed Braddy, said that because of what he calls the arrogance shown by County Commissioners, things have changed in the predominately Democratic county.
Braddy said, "Certainly, the pendulum is moving to the right and the question is how long will it continue swinging that direction before it bends back."
But, Joe Reiskind, said this election is merely a reflection of the national political climate and doesn't necessarily mean big changes in the county. He said, "Local elections are idiosyncratic...they apply to each case, to the personality and character and the records of the person running. Also, incumbency has an impact on the perception of the public in a period of economic crisis."
One thing is certain, the dynamic of the Board of County Commissioners is now going to be very different then it has been for the last eight years. Reiskind said, "I would anticipate that Susan Baird is going to bring a new perspective in the discussions and deliberations of our county commission."
So will this actually mean changes in policy? Only time and the votes of the commission will show that.
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