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County Commissioner Byerly Responds To City of Alachua Mayor

County Commissioner Byerly Responds To City of Alachua Mayor

Alachua Mayor Jean Calderwood publicly chastised me last week for "involving myself" in the ongoing controversy surrounding the recent city election. Ignoring the substance of the controversy, she instead attacked me personally, and questioned my motives. I`m going to return to the issue at hand.

If commissioner James Lewis had been the loser in the disputed election, and subsequently requested access to the public records of the election, and was given the same runaround and legal harrassment that Charles Grapski has received, I`d now be "involved" on the side of Mr. Lewis.

I`m not interested in choosing sides in the election dispute, and I`ll reserve judgment on the accusations from both sides until the legal process has run its course. My interest is in defending my constituents` right to legal and responsive government, an important part of my job. Government should scramble to honor legal public information requests from its own citizens, particularly when they relate to the electoral process.

Rather than expressing "outrage," and reflexively circling the wagons in response to legitimate criticism, Mayor Calderwood might better serve the public by investigating the basis for the criticism. It`s now been five weeks since Mr. Grapski first requested full access to the absentee ballots and early voting log for the disputed election. The recorded minutes of the meeting at which the votes were counted have been approved, apparently unseen, by the Alachua City Commission, yet remarkably remain unavailable to the citizens of Alachua. Why all the secrecy?

Mayor Calderwood, please obey both the letter and the spirit of the law. Respect your own citizens, even the ones you don`t happen to like or agree with. Release the public records.

Mike Byerly

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