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Businesswoman to run for Gainesville council
Harkrider resides in Ward 2
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The City Council also voted:

  • To approve rezoning a residential tract to general business at 1472 Thompson Bridge Road NE. Representatives from Taco Bell requested to build a drive-thru restaurant on the lot and met opposition from residents, who said the Taco Bell would bring unwanted traffic and noise to the neighborhood.
  • Unanimously to approve a special use request to accommodate Little Yellow Coffee House drive-thru coffee restaurant on Thompson Bridge Road, south of the Oak Tree Drive intersection.

Downtown Gainesville business owner Debra Harkrider has resigned as chairman of the Main Street Advisory Board to run for City Council, offering the first source of opposition to Ward 2 Councilman Bob Hamrick in years.

Hamrick has served on the council for 42 years and said Tuesday he plans to run for another term.

Harkrider is one of four members of the Main Street Advisory Board ending their term, At its meeting Tuesday, the Gainesville City Council appointed Amanda McClure, Brett Fowler, DeAnna Brown and Derrick Case to replace Secretary/Treasurer Gladys Wyant, Gary Funk and Linda Orenstein, whose terms expired Thursday.

The outgoing board members could not immediately be reached for comment, but Mayor Ruth Bruner said the change allowed members who had served for years to take a break, and added that at least two members had requested to leave. The term length is two years for board members.

The new members are active in art and business, and Bruner hopes they will bring "fresh ideas" to the city, she said.

"We are glad that so many people are interested in downtown," she said.

Main Street Gainesville is considered a mini chamber of commerce for downtown businesses. The group is responsible for a number of downtown events and serves as an advisory board on ideas to attract and retain business in the downtown square.

The seven-member advisory board was reorganized last year after city officials pulled funding for an original independent group, opting instead to form a city-controlled downtown development authority with a new manager.

Harkrider is a resident of Ward 2 in northeast Gainesville and will run against Hamrick in November. City council members serve at large, meaning they are elected by the city as a whole but must live in the wards they represent.

The council also replaced four of five members in the Metropolitan Planning Organization Community Advisory Committee. Berlinda Lipscomb was the only member reappointed to the board, which meets four times each year to discuss public opinion on a future transportation plan for the city.

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