© 2021 Alachua County Emerging Leaders
Poe is seeking re-election to a second and final term as mayor after serving nearly a decade on the city commission. Mayor Poe has lived in Gainesville since first moving here in 1982. His father was the Director of Bands at the University of Florida, bringing Lauren in to the Gator Nation at an early age. Mayor Poe is a graduate of Gainesville High School, earned his BA in History and M.Ed. in Secondary Social Sciences from the University of Florida.
Poe’s reelection campaign is focused on addressing economic and racial disparity gaps across the city, addressing housing needs, environmental protection and economic development. Some of the past accomplishments he’s proud of include significantly reducing the number of juvenile arrests, which disproportionately affect people of color.
Mayor Poe was first elected to two terms for a total of six years on the Gainesville City Commission. His service on the commission included a year as mayor-commissioner pro tem, chair of the Community Redevelopment Agency, chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization, chair of the Regional Utilities Committee and chair of the Recreation, Cultural Affairs & Public Works Committee. He currently serves on the Audit and Finance Committee, Combined Communications Center Executive Board, and the State Transportation Board.
Lauren has been a teacher in Alachua County since 1998, teaching American History at Ft. Clarke Middle School for four years before accepting a job as a Professor at Santa Fe College, recognized as the #1 college in the nation by the Aspen Institute. Professor Poe teaches Economics and Government in the High School Dual Enrollment Program.
Poe received his bachelor’s degree in History, as well as his Masters in Social Sciences from the University of Florida. He is married to Emily Monda-Poe and they have two daughters together. He has taught in Alachua County since 1998 at Ft. Clarke Middle School and later Santa Fe College.
What role can the city commission play to create job opportunities to recruit and retain young professionals?
During my time as mayor I’ve worked to make this a great city to not just work, but to live and play in as well. For me, economic development is much larger than tax incentives and recruiting, it’s about making a city talented workers and entrepreneurs are drawn to. In my time we’ve seen tremendous economic growth in Gainesville. We have added 600 new businesses, over 11,000 new jobs and our unemployment rate has dropped 42%. Our partnerships with the University of Florida and Santa Fe College are a huge benefit to this, brining innovative ideas to the table and a town-gown relationship that we haven’t had in Gainesville.
The City Commission can help retain this talent by making Gainesville both a great place to live and raise a family as well as a great place to start a business. Programs like the Gainesville Entrepreneurs and Adversity Program (GEAP) can help young professionals with the barriers to entry when starting a business, including the creation of a micro loan program to assist businesses just starting out. The Commission is also focused on improving the quality of life in Gainesville to help us retain our top talent. Expanding affordable housing options, improving our public transit, and passing our renters rights ordinance will help make Gainesville a more affordable city to live. Continuing to invest in our local arts organizations, developing our parks and recreation spaces and continuing to push towards making Gainesville a 100% waste free and renewable energy city is another way we are working to retain those who are looking to live in a progressive, inclusive and growing city.
ACEL supports efforts to increase the ease, safety, and number of alternative transportation options within Alachua County. If elected, how would you address the issue of transportation in the city?
As Mayor, I have supported investing in and improving multi-modal transportation. No matter how you get around we want it to be fast, simple, and safe. We have expanded RTS routes and we are currently working on improved logistics for our routes. We also have created a new on-demand shuttle service for underserved areas in East Gainesville, wherein residents can be picked up at their homes. We have increased funding for road maintenance tenfold, signed on to the Vision Zero initiative to work towards zero road deaths by 2025 and partnered with UF, FDOT, BMW and Audi to develop predictive analytics and safer roads. Part of making our roads safer for all users is expanding access to alternative transportation methods. I fully support making our roads more cyclist friendly and expanding access to bike lanes throughout the city, as well as expanding our trail network so that there are safe alternatives. I am honored to have received the endorsement of Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation, which is a citizen-led coalition advocating for alternative active transportation.
ACEL supports any initiative that will increase the quality and affordability of housing in cultural centers of Alachua County. If elected, how would you address the issue of quality and affordable housing?
Starting with quality housing, we are currently working on our renters rights ordinance which would improve housing for our rental community by placing standards on landlords for the housing quality and energy efficiency of their properties. We are also working with the community weatherization coalition to support increasing the energy efficiency of homes in Gainesville and assisting those who may not be able to afford those upgrades. These changes will help drastically reduce energy usage and therefore energy costs for our residents. We are committed to improving our affordable and public housing stock in the city of Gainesville. We are partnering with the Gainesville Housing Authority to see how we can invest in public housing options. We are looking at all the potential options to improve affordable housing including, creating a land development trust, updating our land development code to allow for accessory dwelling units, and developing public/private partnerships to incentivize affordable housing.
Please briefly describe your top three policy priorities you will implement if elected.
The three top issues facing Gainesville are racial and socioeconomic inequity, ensuring a high quality of life and the creation of economic opportunity for all citizens. If re-elected, I look forward to building on the progress made during my first term to reduce socioeconomic inequalities, increase access and functionality of public transportation, and expand affordable housing options. I want to continue to tackle our most difficult issues, and I believe that this City Commission is positioned to do so. Over this next term I hope to bring up the issues of affordable housing, passing our renters rights ordinance, improving our transportation accessibility and continuing to work reduce waste and increasing renewable energy sources. I will work to build on the GNV/UF partnership, expand quality after and out of school programing for our youth, and protecting our more vulnerable residents such as our LGBTQ and immigrant residents. I will continue to invest in protecting environmental land and creating world class parks such as Depot and Sweetwater Wetlands Park, to improve all of our residents quality of life.