Well, if nothing else, this year’s campaign for Gainesville mayor promises to be entertaining if perhaps not altogether, um civil.
Listen, the election’s still months away. But there’s already been some light shoving going on in the wings.
Heck, the sheer epic drama of it all might even run up voter participation for a change. (Think the UFC sponsoring candidate forums instead of the League of Women Voters.)
Just the twist of having our freshly-fired GRU director abruptly throw his hat into the ring in a rit of fighteous fage will make this race worth the price of staying awake through it.
It’s a bit early yet, but let’s take a look at the contenders we know about so far.
In this corner, weighing in at ultra light is Donald Shepard, who has been calling himself the “people’s representative” for so long that he believes it himself.
The oddsmakers don’t give Shepard much of a chance, but the sheer entertainment value of his presence makes his candidacy compulsory. He once bragged in a commission meeting about having mafia ties. Listen, who else would start his campaign by getting banned from City Hall?
In this corner is David Arreola, weighing in at extremely earnest. A young pol in a hurry to make his mark at….something…anything. Think a youthful Bill Clinton only with worse hair and a made-for-television scowl. He’s marched with UF students so how hard can this gig be?
In this corner, weighing in a 220 volts, is former GRU director Ed Belarski. He’s mad. He’s bad. He’s lookin’ for payback.
“It’s not a threat, it’s a promise,” he says of his just-after-getting-canned declaration for mayor. Let’s just say he’s got an, um, electric personality and is poised to come out of the gate super-charged. His slogan: Stop the malarkey, vote for Bielarski.
In this corner, weighing in at ”Damn, I don’t have a slogan that rhymes,” is Harvey Ward. A native of GNV, Ward has reportedly been planning this run for mayor since he popped out of the womb. But being the good sport he is, Ward voluntarily handicapped his own candidacy by making the motion to fire the guy who’s now running full tilt against him.
In this corner (hey, are we out of corners yet?) is Yet To Be Announced. YTBA will be the throw-the-monkey-wrench-into-the-city-machine candidate who will either run on the “neighborhoods are getting hammered” platform or the “kill a greedy developer for Christ” platform or the “elect me or the UN flag will fly over Gainesville and we’ll all be forced to ride bicycles and live in biodomes” platform.
I tell you GNV friends and neighbors, it’s gonna be epic.