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Real estate agent wants to be Gainesvilles first elected mayor
Position previously rotated among City Council members
Charles Alvarez
Charles Alvarez

Real estate agent Charles Alvarez has announced plans to run for Gainesville’s new mayoral post.

“I’m just going to do my best to solve things. I like to solve things and I love to serve,” he said Monday on why he’s a candidate.

Gainesville is switching to an elected mayor this year, with the election set for Nov. 5.

Previously, the position rotated among City Council members in two-year terms. Mayor Danny Dunagan’s term ends Dec. 31, and as the Ward 1 representative, he is up for re-election.

The Ward 4 seat also will be on the ballot, with that councilman, George Wangemann, announcing last week he is running for re-election.

The new mayor plan keeps the council’s current election structure intact, calling for the citywide election of five council members from each of the city’s wards, and a continued two-year rotation of mayor pro tempore.

But it adds a sixth seat to the council: a mayor elected from any of the five wards.

Alvarez, 55, originally from New York, has lived in Gainesville the past eight years.

“What brought me to Gainesville was an act of faith,” he said, adding that he had no local ties before moving to the city. “My pastor in Florida said find a church and (then) find a home.”

He doesn’t regret the decision.

“I love it, and I have my grandkids growing up here,” said Alvarez, who is married and has four children and six grandchildren. “I want them to have a future and better opportunity, and I think Gainesville can offer that.”

He has worked in real estate for about 10 years, the last four for Prudential Georgia Realty.

Alvarez said, among other things, he is interested in the city’s financial condition.

“Every single tax that comes through the City Council, they just raise their hands ... without really looking into it,” he said.

Alvarez also said he is concerned about “housing conditions, not necessarily speaking of public housing,” and the appearance of major roadways into the city.

“If someone wants to come in and do business in Gainesville, as soon as one of them comes into one of these gateways,” many have decided “not to do it,” he said.

“It’s not an easy issue, but I think there’s a way the state, county and the city of Gainesville can work together to correct that.”

Qualifying for mayor and council seats is set for Aug. 26-28. The fee is $35 for mayor and $621 for council member.

State election law “pretty much dictates how we calculate the fee, which is 3 percent of the salary paid in the previous year,” City Clerk Denise Jordan said in January, when the council approved a resolution setting the fees.

Because the city hasn’t had an elected mayor, “we had to fall back on state law, which says that fee can’t be any higher than $35,” she said.