Friday May 24th, 2024 9:37AM

Election Preview: Guzman faces Pandy for Gainesville City Council Ward 4 seat

By Hamilton Keener Anchor / Reporter

Devin Pandy will face Abigail Guzman for the Gainesville City Council Ward 4 seat in the May 21 special election.

The seat became open after the passing of longtime city councilman George Wangemann in late 2023. 

Guzman said if she is elected she would like to focus on housing and jobs.

“I would like to see Gainesville continue moving forward in the positive direction that it is moving. There are obvious challenges ahead like traffic flow that we need to focus on and working to continue to attract quality jobs and housing,” Guzman said. “However, I think the current Council and Staff are doing a great job, I greatly admire the intentional work they are doing and I hope to be able to be a part of that!”

In her ward, she would like to focus on pedestrian safety and traffic on Atlanta Highway. 

“The most important thing is I want to make sure that the citizens in my ward feel that they have someone representing them I think that's key,” Guzman said “I think we can definitely look at ways to improve Atlanta Highway it needs to be accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians. Atlanta Highway is a very high-traffic area with a lot of businesses so I want to make sure that we can move traffic in an efficient and safe manner.”

Pandy said he would like to focus on neglected areas of the City as well as housing prices. 

“I want to look at housing availability and housing affordability,” Pandy said. “I want to be there to offer my assistance to make sure that some of the areas within Gainesville that have been neglected for a number of years and that have been blighted - I would like to ensure that those areas are looked at, through a serious lens, by the city and in conjunction with the county in some instances, to ensure that we are taking care of every inch of Gainsville. I take serving the community seriously, just as seriously as I took serving the country. Putting me in a situation, like being a council member where I can actually not only give the residents of Gainesville and the residents of Ward four a seat at the table. But because I have been in the community and I know what's going on in the community, I can also give them a voice in the conversation.”

Pandy added that he would hold regular town halls for residents of the city to voice their concerns. 

Pandy served in the U.S. Army for nearly 21 years and felt serving on the city council would be a continuation of his service. 

“I followed after my father and my older brother's footsteps, and my mother's footsteps as well, she wasn't in the military, but she served her community faithfully,” Pandy said. “I sit on a number of boards, and I volunteer, all over the place. That volunteership has led me to see that there are ways that these organizations ... can be supported by the governments whose residents they serve. And so I just figured it's a natural step to move ... seeing what there is that we can do as a council to make the lives of the residents of Gainesville better.”

Guzman is a local business owner operating Pristine Clean and Consuelo. When opening Consuelo, Guzman saw the council work firsthand and that made her feel she could help her fellow citizens. 

“When we were in the process of opening Consuelo I saw firsthand the City of Gainesville, staff and council, and how willing they were to help and go the extra mile and assured that any resource that was available to us was provided, I was absolutely impressed,” Guzman said. “I really want to make a difference in our community and be that tool and resource for other people in the community. Gainesville has given us so much. It has been so kind and generous and this was the best way for me to continue serving my community.”

Both candidates discussed the diversity they would bring to the city council. 

“Being a Mexican American woman, I offer a unique perspective and a diverse voice. To be the first Hispanic person, I think, not even male or female, I would be the first Hispanic, Latin person on city council. It's such an honor, just the thought, one running for that position, but to actually have a seat at that table, and for my children to see, it just makes me almost emotional, because it would be such an honor. For my children to say one day, my mother was the first to sit in that position. And for my daughter to know, we're breaking glass ceilings, we are making a change, and we're working hard. And that hard work pays off,” Guzman said. 

“I am Afro-Latino, with a touch of British and Irish. So I have a wealth of cultures running within my veins, and I try to identify with those cultures, with the cultures that make me who I am, as much as possible, and so being such a diverse person, I definitely look at the world and Gainesville, in a diverse way. So having my input on the council, I believe, could open the eyes of our leaders to some of the issues that they may not be aware of, or that they may not know, are as serious as it is,” Pandy said. 

Early voting for the election began on Apr. 29. Election day for the special election is May 21.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Election 2024
  • Associated Tags: gainesville, hall county, Gainesville City Council, Election, City Council, ward 4
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