Other issues pale to what we will face when the dust settles from the COVID crisis. We will see the shuttering of some small businesses, the suffering of families who have lost their jobs. The county’s revenue stream will shrink as the effects of business and job losses become a reality.
Every citizen in Alachua County has been affected by this pandemic. I will lead us through recovery and into prosperity, working with all county agencies including law enforcement, school board, housing authority and others, and create a task force to address each agency in the aftermath.
We recognize the challenge the small business community will face in COVID recovery. No business has been left unscathed and when federal funding including Payroll Protection runs out, more businesses face possible closure. Unemployment will rise. Now is not the time to add more regulations. Now is the time to offer them the tools they need, within the purview of county resources, to sustain and prosper.
While Alachua County has seen a boom in residential housing, it falls woefully short of affordable housing. For middle and low income residents, the majority of their income is spent covering rent. In partnership with builders and housing agencies, let’s commit to creating an Alachua County where people can afford to live. I am ready to work together to create a new era of truly affordable housing.
Our County law enforcement is a model when it comes to innovative ways for alternative sentencing. But we can do more. Addiction is a disease, not a crime, and I will create a task force specifically to look at more ways to reduce the jail population of addicts. The cost of keeping an inmate in jail may be commensurate with putting the inmate in a recovery or drug rehabilitation program. Let’s change Alachua’s County’s number one ranking in Florida for non-fatal drug overdoses* to last in the ranking.
*(According to the Enhanced State Opioid Surveillance Program in 2019)