Alachua Voter Guide

Where all politics is local…

A Voice from the Political Graveyard

July 12, 2014 By: Don Marsh Category: Site Issues

smdonCYIAThe number of people wondering whatever happened to that guy who lost the Mayor’s race by a whisker in 2010 is probably not in double digits, but for that blessed remnant I will address their curiosity. The rest of you will just have to click through to your search for cat videos and be on your way.

I, Don Marsh, loser of the 2010 runoff, have embraced that idea that the people have spoken. And I am fine with it. I continue to get the occasional condolence or apology for supporting my opponent, and even questions about running again, but I have better things to do.

Shortly after losing the 2011 at large city commission race, I took a long time to pray and seek the Lord about what to do with my life. My wife and I were done parenting children. Our grown son and daughter were surviving out in the wild, metaphorically speaking, and we had too much house to live in. We decided to do the Big Downsize, sell the house, and put home ownership behind us. We wanted to make ourselves light for whatever journey God called us on. And it worked.

To keep it short, we wanted to get back into children’s ministry, find a new church home, and work a lot less for money for the rest of our lives. That is when we stumbled upon Child Evangelism Fellowship and it was the answer to our prayers. I don’t know where they had been all of my life, but CEF has been evangelizing children with the Gospel of Jesus Christ since 1937, and it is currently doing so in 188 countries.

They are relatively well known for their Good News Clubs, which are mostly in public elementary schools during the release time. It seems that the Good News Club in Milford, NY won a lawsuit in 2001 that went to the US Supreme Court on the grounds that shutting out Good News Clubs when other groups were let in was “viewpoint discrimination.” There are now about 5,000 Good News Clubs in schools across America.

Cindi and I volunteered in Good News Clubs during the 2012 and 2013 school years. We took a class called Teaching Children Effectively 1, and we were amazed at how effective our training was! We went for further training in Warrenton, MO, at Children’s Ministries Institute so that we could become directors of a local chapter some day, and those doors have opened up! We are moving to Homosassa in Citrus County, and we will be directors of a new chapter there.

I will not be getting involved in politics in Citrus County. In politics, you have to get a majority of voters to do the right thing in order to make a difference. In our new work, we are teaching the next generation of grown ups (and voters) to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and follow Him. I will be satisfied with the results that will have upon my country in the future, but what is most important is that you don’t need a majority to please God or to go to Heaven.

I will still vote, and I will still hope for better government in my lifetime, but the next generation will NOT be doing better if we do not reach them with the Gospel. Do something REALLY meaningful. Get involved in your local CEF chapter with your time, your prayers, and your money. Live your life for Jesus as if you really mean it.

Mayor exposing fraud

July 29, 2013 By: Don Marsh Category: Local Issues

All but calling the city government a bunch of liars, Mayor Ed Braddy talks about how fraud is hidden in “complexity” here in our super fair and equal city.

Are We the Next Detroit?

April 26, 2013 By: Don Marsh Category: Local Issues, Media

Gainesville and Alachua County seem to have a love affair with antiquated technologies: wood-burning power plant, bus mass transit, light rail studies, trolley cars, bike lanes. These are all huge infrastructure costs; all bets against the proliferation of lower power devices, telecommuting, the freedom that the private automobile brings, and many people’s preference for riding their bikes on the sidewalks.

When I ask, “Are we the next Detroit?” I don’t mean it in a good way. I mean that we can learn from cities that made investments that didn’t pay off. Please listen to this podcast. Save it to your hard drive and put it on your iPod, or just let it play while you are working on other things, like improving your score on Angry Birds.

Click to play


Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and author of The Triumph of Cities talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about American cities. The conversation begins with a discussion of the history of Detroit over the last century and its current plight. What might be done to improve Detroit’s situation? Why are other cities experiencing similar challenges to those facing Detroit? Why are some cities thriving and growing? What policies might help ailing cities and what policies have helped those cities that succeed? The conversation concludes with a discussion of why cities have such potential for growth.

Racist or Clueless? You Decide.

April 25, 2013 By: Don Marsh Category: Activism, Local Issues

In our present climate of political discourse it has become too common to just call someone a racist when you want to destroy them politically, or just end an argument when you have no facts at your disposal to make your point. That is why I am hesitant to call the local Democrat Party leadership racist. But I may be wrong. I think they are just ham-handed, smugly superior, and clueless. But I am a white man with a white person’s frame of reference. Either way, I am going to cast this story far and wide to get a decent sampling of opinions. Democrat leadership, you can thank me later.

In a letter dated April 17, 2013, the Alachua County Democrat Black Caucus was told that they should revoke their charter immediately because they supported Ed Braddy, a Republican, against Craig Lowe, a Democrat. They further state that they, “have harmed the image of the Democratic Party locally and likely contributed to the loss of the Gainesville Mayoral election on April 16, 2013.”

After they enumerate the sins of the wayward Black Caucus, including attached pictures of the infractions, they finish off with this, “Our relationship with the local African American community has been negatively impacted and Gainesville will now have a Republican Mayor in part because of the activities of the ACDBC and some of its members. Thank you for taking action on this matter promptly before further damage is done.”

It is then signed by the Democrat leadership:
Robert Prather, Chair
Evelyn Foxx, Vice Chair
Jeanna Mastodicasa, State Committeewoman
Terry Fleming, State Committeeman

To see the entire letter, download it here.

The Black Caucus is accused of harming the image of the party. They are expected to take action in the form of revoking their own charter before further damage is done. Now if I were writing a response to this letter, it would go like this:

To whom it may concern:

We are writing in regards to your request, which didn’t sound like a request at all. It was an accusation against a people that you have taken for granted, and you have refused to listen to for a long time. It was an insult added to the injury you have done us, and then you tell us that we have “harmed the image of the Democratic Party locally.”

What you have failed to see is that you yourselves have  already harmed the image of the Democrat Party locally. You publicly stand against public discourse on the issues. You hide a contract that is harmful to the citizens from the citizens and insult them for disagreeing with you. Then you tell us it is our fault that the party’s image suffers.

The division in the party has been caused by you, the party leadership. Our unhappiness and willingness to look for redress from others is a symptom of your egregious behavior.  Your sins are many, but you have the audacity to accuse us of being unfaithful. You have had many opportunities to mend your ways, but now you come to us with the lash!

We have decided to find our true friends among our neighbors. You who look down on us from your high opinions of yourselves are not our friends. You see yourselves as our masters, and we had better knuckle under and toe the line. This insult will not soon be forgotten.

(Then I would sign it with the names of as many aggrieved persons as I could find.)

I know that this letter contains some language that could be considered racially charged, but I assure you that you can also be white and feel this way. So, please weigh in with your comments. Am I being too hard on the clueless little darlings, or are they really evil, hard-hearted SOBs?

District 3: The New Battle Ground

April 24, 2013 By: Don Marsh Category: Candidates, Local Issues

This one was a big game changer. I had won this district in a squeaker, but Ed took it handily. Susan Bottcher, a Machine candidate, won this easily in 2011 against Rob Zeller. She got a comparable number of votes as Lowe did, and as did I. But Ed crossed the 2000 vote mark, which means Susan Bottcher may be vulnerable to the same new enthusiasm among District 3 neighbors.

Comparing District 3 results 2010 vs 2013
24th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 295 45.67% 351 54.33% M +8
Braddy/Lowe 435 61.79% 269 38.21% B +24
26th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 357 55.52% 286 44.48% L +12
Braddy/Lowe 190 41.21% 271 58.79% L +18
32nd precinct
Lowe/Marsh 111 41.73% 155 58.27% M +16
Braddy/Lowe 345 56.19% 269 43.81% B +12
36th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 58 59.18% 40 40.82% L +18
Braddy/Lowe 69 54.76% 57 45.24% B +10
39th precinct
Lowe/Marsh Did not exist in 2010
Braddy/Lowe 43 59.72% 29 40.28% B +20
40th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 191 39.14% 297 60.86% M +22
Braddy/Lowe 364 66.06% 187 33.94% B +32
52nd precinct
Lowe/Marsh Did not exist in 2010
Braddy/Lowe 6 66.67% 3 33.33% B +34
54th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 216 62.61% 129 37.39% L +26
Braddy/Lowe 152 47.80% 166 52.20% L +4
61st precinct
Lowe/Marsh 318 43.56% 412 56.44% M +12
Braddy/Lowe 475 57.72% 348 42.28% B +16

District 3 totals
Lowe/Marsh  1546 49.6%  1570 50.4% +1
Braddy/Lowe  2079 56.5% 1599 43.5% B +13

District 2-The Conservative Corral

April 21, 2013 By: Don Marsh Category: Candidates, Local Issues

As I continue this series of postmortems on the recent election, I will still be comparing it to the 2010 election. Keep in mind, as a commenter on the last article said, there has been some redistricting done since 2010.

District 2 is to conservatives what District 1 is to liberals: home field advantage. This monster district, the biggest of them all, was probably crafted on purpose to make sure that there would only be one conservative on the city commission. But, what happens when that one district is so big that it could, in theory, elect at-large candidates just by amping up its turnout a bit?  Let’s see…

Comparing District 2 results 2010 vs 2013
12th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 256 44.76% 316 55.24% M +10
Braddy/Lowe 257 45.49% 308 54.51% L +10
17th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 257 49.05% 267 50.95% M +2
Braddy/Lowe 407 58.56% 288 41.44% B +18
21st precinct
Lowe/Marsh 199 44.03% 253 55.97% M +14
Braddy/Lowe 461 69.53% 202 30.47% B +40
22nd precinct
Lowe/Marsh did not exist in 2010
Braddy/Lowe 83 69.75% 36 30.25% B +40
24th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 295 45.67% 351 54.33% M +8
Braddy/Lowe 435 61.79% 269 38.21% B +24
37th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 173 30.73% 390 69.27% M +38
Braddy/Lowe 430 69.02% 193 30.98% B +38
38th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 121 30.71% 273 69.29% M +38
Braddy/Lowe 457 71.29% 184 28.71% B +42
45th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 290 35.89% 518 64.11% M +28
Braddy/Lowe 823 72.83% 307 27.17% B +46
50th precinct
Lowe/Marsh Did not exist in 2010
Braddy/Lowe 409 59.80% 275 40.20% B +20
55th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 68 37.99% 111 62.01% M +24
Braddy/Lowe 79 59.85% 53 40.15% B +20
57th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 240 37.21% 405 62.79% M +26
Braddy/Lowe 346 60.17% 229 39.83% B +20
District 2 totals
Lowe/Marsh 1899 39.7% 2884 60.3% M +20 turnout 28%
Braddy/Lowe  4187 64.1% 2344 35.9% B +28 turnout 26%

One of the most interesting anomalies here is that in the 12th precinct, the Koppers neighborhood, I took it by 10% in 2010. However, the same precinct seems to have gone BACK to the same guy they loathed just three years ago, by 10% for a 20% percent change of direction. I cannot fathom that change. Help me out here…

Nerding out on the numbers-District 1

April 18, 2013 By: Don Marsh Category: Local Issues, Uncategorized

Here it is, only 2 days after Ed Braddy’s victory and it’s time to start taking it apart! Since I was Lowe’s opponent in 2010, these sorts of comparisons are near and dear to my heart.

Today, we are looking at District one, which is  made of up of precincts number 13, 19, 25, 28, 33, 55, and 59. It’s largely East Gainesville. It is pretty much the Graveyard of Republicans. Ed Braddy and I are both Republicans who distinguished ourselves from most Republican candidates by reaching out to East Gainesville. How has that worked out for us? Here’s some of the raw numbers.

Comparing District 1 results 2010 vs 2013
13th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 135 56.02% 106 43.98% L +12%
Braddy/Lowe 110 36.79% 189 63.21% L +26%
19th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 126 66.32% 64 33.68% L +32%
Braddy/Lowe 79 31.10% 175 68.90% L +38%
25th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 60 68.97% 27 31.03% L +38%
Braddy/Lowe 54 30.68% 122 69.32% L +38%
28th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 132 51.56% 124 48.44% L +4%
Braddy/Lowe 168 45.04% 205 54.96% L +10%
33rd precinct
Lowe/Marsh 134 42.01% 185 57.99% M +16%
Braddy/Lowe 183 49.06% 190 50.94% L +2%
55th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 68 37.99% 111 62.01% M +24%
Braddy/Lowe 79 59.85% 53 40.15% B +20%
59th precinct
Lowe/Marsh 127 62.87% 75 37.13 L +26%
Braddy/Lowe 151 50.00% 151 50.00% T +0%
District 1 totals
Lowe/Marsh 782 53% 692 47% turnout 10.16%
Braddy/Lowe 824 43% 1085 57% turnout 10.28%

This is not hard to figure out. The first number is the actual number of votes in that precinct, followed by the percentage of voters that represents. Then the opponent’s number of votes followed by its corresponding percentage, followed by the winner’s first initial and his margin of victory.

I was surprised to see that I had actually lost that district by a smaller margin than Ed did. And the voter turnout rate was just a bit smaller in 2010 than in 2013. The overall votes were more, but voter registration was up in 2013 because we just came off a Presidential election.

I know Ed spent more than I did, had much more visible support than I did, and I will be the first to admit that Ed is just a better candidate than I was. What happened? The only reason for this disparity is that I surprised Craig Lowe last time. This time, they saw it coming. The Machine must have pulled out all the stops, because they got out 303 m0re votes to defend against Ed than they did against me.

Another wrinkle in this story is this: in 2011, in my at large race against Tom Hawkins, I didn’t do nearly as well as the year before. This, I believe, has more to do with Craig Lowe being a more polarizing candidate than Hawkins.

Ed Braddy Wins!

April 17, 2013 By: Don Marsh Category: Candidates

Ed Braddy is now 3-0 lifetime as a candidate. And that’s not all: he’s a Republican who has never lost a Gainesville City race. How has this happened? Part of it is that Ed is a gifted and articulate candidate, but the bigger part is that a diverse group of citizens came to realize that they are all neighbors, and that they need to look out for one another.

It gave me a very warm, “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of feeling to look around the room and see people on the same side that I would not have predicted 11 years ago, when I worked on Ed’s first campaign. The kind of “diversity” that bossy bureaucrats are always trying to enforce with raw power had bubbled up organically around common causes…and a common enemy. The celebrants were black and white, left and right, rich and poor, green and…what? Asphalt? You get the idea. The lamb and the lion had gotten together to stick it to the hyenas.

Perhaps I am being uncharitable, but the common complaint that binds these people together is the arrogance of The Machine and its particular parts. There was a real sense of payback in the crowd, and online, where one Facebook wag announced, “Mr. Lowe, your 3 minutes are up!” That referred to the infamous strict time limits placed on citizen comments at city commission meetings, and the fact that they were all disregarded anyway.

The neighbors have had much to complain about: the snail’s pace and questionable effectiveness of the Koppers cleanup; the new tree-burning power plant; an ignored east side that gets a steady diet of “plans” with  no results; a love affair with high-priced Bus Rapid Transit that few people want to ride; politically motivated hiring practices. Add to this the know-it-all attitude of commissioners that disregards the tax payers who foot the bills, and it’s no wonder the Machine took one in the tail pipe last night.

This victory is already being disregarded by at least one cog in The Machine. City Commissioner Tom Hawkins was quoted in The Gainesville Sun saying that this is not a mandate, and that the city commission still has a lot of important work to do. (Translation: “You little nebishes in Munchkin-land can go back to your unimportant commenting and complaining.”)

Hawkins, who will be term limited out after next year, will certainly have a Machine tool to replace him on the ballot next year, and Machine-commissioner Susan Botcher will be facing an opponent from the new coalition of neighbors. Todd Chase, the lone outsider on the commission, was cheered by the crowd when he announced that he would be running for re-election next year. Maybe a couple more replacements will enlighten the rest of the Lean, Mean, Pegeen Machine. The neighbors are getting restless. And talking down to them is not an effective campaign strategy.

Go to the Supervisor of Elections website for all the details on Ed’s 7,258-6,007 whupping of Craig Lowe.

A Reason to Hope

April 15, 2013 By: Don Marsh Category: Candidates, Local Issues

I will not predict the winner of this election, because indicators mean absolutely NOTHING if the voters take them as a sign that their votes are not needed. In short, if the people don’t vote, none of this matters. But, there are many indicators that should hearten Ed Braddy’s supporters. I hope this will have the effect of encouraging them that their votes MATTER.

First, in 2010 Craig Lowe got into the runoff with a little over 4,000 votes, while his nearest rival, yours truly, got under 3,000 votes. The next month, my wing-and-a-prayer campaign more than doubled our vote total to lose a squeaker by 42 votes. This time around, Ed Braddy went into the runoff as the LEADER. He has a lot less ground to cover than I did.

Second, The Braddy Campaign has a LOT more money than I did. This does matter. I got outspent by over a 2-1 margin, yet I was only 1 campaign mailer away from winning the race. Lowe and Braddy are much closer in money raised, and his Team Braddy is much more experienced than mine in 2010.

Third, many Democrats quietly supported me in 2010. This time, they are much more open in their revolt against Mayor Lowe. Whereas I took a respectable share of East side voters, this time those same voters are turning to Braddy in bigger numbers.

Fourth, although the Lowe DUI incident is not enough by itself to sink him, the obvious coverup and its subsequent discovery and incriminating video of a Sheriff’s Deputy telling Lowe that things would be done differently because of his job gives the impression of the local Democrat Machine as being desperate and corrupt. This kind of embarrassment can keep Lowe’s supporters at home, even if they don’t vote for Braddy.

Keep your eye on the ball, Gainesville! Come out Tuesday and FIRE Mayor Lowe! This is what accountability looks like!

The day the newspaper died

April 15, 2013 By: Gabriel Hillel Category: Uncategorized

cropped-LWV.jpg                                                                          There is no joy in Gainesville tonight, after the Sunday daily arrived on my doorstep.   Even paying taxes on April 15 will not be as painful.

I have often questioned why I decided to become a lawyer.  But until  April 14, 2013,   I never asked myself why I first chose to become a journalist.   Today, Sunday, on every imaginable level, the Sun, the only daily in town, failed me, failed its readers, and failed the public.

It was not any one item or report.  Two days before a tense election runoff for mayor, three years after a comparable run-off resulted in a legally contested victory of less than 50 votes for the first gay mayor in the City, this newspaper chose to ignore the current contest entirely, except for inclusion on an inside page in the middle of a column of a recap of the last meeting between the two candidates and some letter sniffles.

No mention was made on any relevant page, e.g., the front page, or section, that is, state and local, or the opinion pages, about the issues in the mayor’s race, the personalities, the actions of two odd men.   The new editorial page editor once again examined his navel and how life might have been different if his mother had not taken a certain medication.    He did leave me wondering where human subjects come from for research.

The old editorial page editor decided the day was the day to declare himself to be on the side of pedestrians and bicycles, and to applaud Mothers Against Drunk Driving, without mention of connection to the two candidates for office or to the irony of a DUI arrest and conviction of a local former MADD chapter leader.   At one point, I believed no matter what else the old editor was he was a Gainesville fan.  Now I am not so sure.

The one and only real editorial considered a recent transportation summit, and concluded: “The summit helped show that there are more areas of agreement that disagreement on transportation. Community leaders must keep working to develop a united front to ensure that the next transportation tax doesn’t suffer the same fate as past measures.  Being stuck on the transportation issue is getting old, especially when it means being stuck on damaged and congested roads.”    Usually editorials are anonymous, so that the comments seem to be the voice of the publisher. Certainly that is not the case here.  No one I know would want to take credit for a yawner like this one.

The front page was filled with large photos from1982 here and at present from Los Angeles of a man who is on trial for murder and likely is a serial killer.  Neither there nor in the full-blown stories filling up inside pages did the newspaper mention the race of the individual or any of the victims or witnesses.  Surely no one would notice that those who were shown were black.    Reader, if you think that page was racist, you know that must be you, not the great liberal newspaper which only Saturday ran some great story about  the success of teaching black males without any of that pretense about the need for whites in the classroom for the good of both races.   The message is clear: the sooner blacks unite and stick to themselves, whites no longer have  to be interested in that population at all.

The local and state section did let us know that under the current Republican governor, it was harder than in the past for former felons to get restoration of their right to vote.  Again, blacks should not take that personally.   It is their God-given duty to get out to vote for the incumbent mayor who believes the need for affirmative action in hiring is just retaliation for his hiring of his campaign manager by the City Clerk.  Just when I thought the mayoral assistant could take over in his absence, the mayor insisted he would take care of his duties himself, although he seems to do the only thing he can do by law so ineptly that even Democrats are loathe to be in the same room with him.

Despite this silence about the local election, the Sun can be expected to shake its corporate head in dismay about the low voter turnout and why more people in Gainesville did not vote when both parties ran extreme candidates in a non-partisan race for mayor.   I do hope they have barf bags at the poll this time.   Be forewarned: I will kick you know where to anyone trying to get me to take an “I voted” sticker.

Ironically, the paper did play up the appearance of a Jewish journalist Carl Bernstein speaking to a mostly Jewish audience primarily about Israel.    Who is Mr. Bernstein?   The Gainesville Sun described him succinctly:  The journalist won a Pulitzer Prize at the Washington Post for uncovering the Watergate scandal.     Of course, we all know what “Watergate” is, and when the scandal took place, even if most readers older than 40 are hardly likely to have experienced any of the related events.     A reminder: the scandal led to the resignation of the late President Richard Nixon, because of dirty tricks committed by Republicans on the national scene during and after the 1972 presidential election.

For great journalists like Carl Bernstein, his colleague Bob Woodward, and muckrakers like Lincoln Steffens, I wish to apologize for what print outlets have become in this age of social media.   As for me, I will do what I can as a new age/world blogger to expose the deterioration of local politics and the local image now that the mighty Gainesville Sun has struck out.

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