Green Party of Florida member Michael Canney ran for a seat on the Alachua City Commission. Although he lost the election with 238 votes to 436 for four-time incumbent Orien Hills, Canney signaled his intention to be involved in Alachua politics for the long term.
Canney’s campaign platform could well serve as a model for the sorts of issues Greens running for office in small towns should emphasize. Among the issues were fiscal responsibility, sustainable development, smart energy policy, and neighborhood empowerment. The latter issue is an extension of his work in founding Neigh≠borhoods United for a Better Alachua.
Open government was another issue raised during the campaign with Canney promising the same accessibility to consti≠tuents, which Florida Governor Charlie Crist has initiated. Related to this issue, Canney unsuccessfully urged the town to hold a candidates’ forum for all of the candidates for commission seats. Expos≠ing voters to the ideas of Greens was a key part of the campaign.
Canney also became the first candidate who entered Turkey Creek, a local gated community and knocked on doors to introduce himself to potential voters. He successfully argued that campaigning was not sales solicitation, a practice prohibited in the community. While Canney was warmly received, he noted many of the Turkey Creek residents were not even aware of the election, as only 208 out of a potential 1800 voted.
Michael Canney has established a framework for raising citizen awareness of local issues aligned to a Green agenda. He plans to continue to remind citizens of his involvement and concern for those issues. His campaign blog (michaelcanney.wordpress.com) will remain active so he can comment and start a dialogue on issues of importance for Alachua.