Monkey pox letters, school board and congressional nominees, more

The impact of monkeypox

It’s hard not to fear monkeypox given the recent uproar. President Joe Biden declaring monkeypox a public health emergency takes me back to when COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency. It’s easy to panic, but let’s review the facts about monkeypox

It is not a new disease. There is a vaccine that can be used after exposure. The smallpox vaccine also offers some protection. We are not as vulnerable there as we were to COVID-19. But, if monkeypox spreads to Gainesville, it won’t be hard to predict who will suffer the most.

In the Alachua County Community Survey, 78% of respondents ranked access to health care as the most important factor in community health. Cost was ranked as the main barrier. The median black household income in Alachua is $24,000 lower than the median white household income. If monkeypox appeared in Gainesville, it’s no secret that low-income people will experience the worst outcomes.

Free community clinics should have protocols in place to help people manage monkeypox exposures, so if monkeypox spreads to Gainesville, the most vulnerable in our community have a place to go.

Mehrsa Razavi, medical student, University of Florida College of Medicine

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Outdated technology

Thanks to Carol Lindsey and Shauna Junco for writing their article in The Sun regarding the University of Florida’s plan to build the Central Energy Plant. As a recent UF graduate, I would be ashamed if Kent Fuchs and the UF board followed their current plan to build this factory. Not only does burning methane pose extremely harmful health risks, but the cost alone is enormous.

It’s embarrassing to think that such an innovative institution would stoop to this antiquated method to meet its growing energy needs when there are much cleaner and cheaper options. On the webpage for the UF Central Energy Plant project, it is stated that they considered “environmental impact,” which is misleading to its students and the community of Gainesville. The least they can do is be transparent about burning one of the most harmful fossil fuels to power their factory.

Alyssa Lewis, Gainesville

Quality candidates

Two years ago, I would have had a hard time naming a member of the Alachua County school board. Then COVID arrived, laying bare — and in many cases exacerbating — the challenges facing our district.

I decided to get involved (better late than never) and over the past two years I have had the opportunity to help advocate on behalf of students, teachers and families in the county of Alachua. Along the way, I have met and worked with many dedicated community officials and organizers, including school board candidates Sarah Rockwell and Tina Certain.

Working with Sarah to improve school safety and expand community engagement has been humbling. Her combination of intelligence, hard work, and kindness will make her an ideal school board member, and I couldn’t be more excited and grateful for her candidacy.

And after watching and attending too many school board meetings to count, I challenge anyone to name a more qualified and impressive official than Tina Certain. Her tax expertise has been a constant and invaluable contribution to the board, and she is always prepared and ready to find a solution.

Sarah Rockwell and Tina Certain have my vote, and I strongly urge you to support them no later than August 23.

David Kaplan, Gainesville

Favored by independents

Independents are the key to District 3 of the US Congress. As he does in 2022, Dr Tom Wells in 2018 and 2020 enjoyed strong support from independents and would no doubt have won the general election in both contests had he been the nominee. It’s unfortunate that in 2020 Wells garnered 32% of the vote in a razor-thin three-way race and narrowly missed out on the second round.

In this upcoming race, only Wells has a realistic chance of toppling the district. Based on the distribution of newly registered voters from District 3 as of June 28, Republicans make up 43.2% of voters, Democrats 35.1%, and “Others” (almost all without party affiliation) 21.7%. These three groups voted in roughly equal percentages in the 2020 general election.

To overcome the Republican margin over Democrats, the Democratic nominee would need an impressive 68.7% or more of those other voters to win. The Roe vs. Wade opposition will help any Democrat, but not enough. Democrats, with the help of others, must try to avoid a District 3 hat-trick in 2022.

Democrats must back Wells in the upcoming primary in August.

Jonathan J. Shuster, Gainesville

Online election documents

The deadline for submitting endorsement letters from candidates for the upcoming elections has passed. For links to previous letters, candidate op-ed columns, Sun endorsements, and candidate interview videos, visit

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