Who's running for Gainesville City Commission's District 4 seat? What to know about the race- Christian Newman

Gainesville Sun- August 9, 2022, https://www.gainesville.com/story/news/2022/08/09/meet-your-gainesville-city-commission-district-4-race-candidates/10217136002/


Christian Newman, 53, moved to Gainesville from Bellingham, Washington in 1977 when he was in the second grade.

The father of three is a product of local schools and graduated from Eastside High school, where he would later become a science teacher.

Currently, Newman works as a wildlife biologist for an energy research nonprofit organization. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Holy Cross College, and two master's degrees from the University of Florida – wildlife ecology and business administration.

Newman says he’s running because Gainesville has given him so much and he wants to return the investment.

“I have an interesting set of experiences from being a teacher to running my own business to being an environmental scientist, to being in the room listening to some of these really important things going on in our society that’s going to create more opportunity for our community,” he said.

Newman served on the city's plan board for four years, where he says he enjoyed trying to make good decisions for the benefit of the community. 

With a focus on increasing affordable housing, Newman said, if elected, he would address the issue in a way that involves the people.

“We can’t be telling our citizens what is best for them,” he said. “We have got to engage with citizens to help us make good decisions, and (the current commission) isn’t doing that.”

Newman says the east side of Gainesville is another issue that's important to him

"Again, someone who grew up in Gainesville, went to Eastside, taught at Eastside, I mean there has been a lot of talk but not much action in terms of trying to invest in that side of town that benefits the current residents while also strengthening all of Gainesville," he said. 

Newman also says he will work to restore trust in the commission, something that he finds to be currently lacking.

Newman has brought in over $50,000 in campaign contributions, the most of any candidate running for city office in 2022. He has received donations from City Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut, former sheriff Sadie Darnell, former commissioner and local attorney Thomas Hawkins and public defender Stacy Scott.

Christian Newman: Experienced leadership needed in local government

Gainesville Sun- July 15, 2022, https://www.gainesville.com/story/opinion/2022/07/15/column-gainesville-city-commission-candidate-christian-newman/10050109002/

Gainesville has supported me and given my family opportunities since I moved here as a second grader in 1977. Gainesville invested in me, and I want to return that investment by serving as a city commissioner for District 4.  

I have the right experience, perspective and temperament gained from being a teacher, business owner and a voluntary City Plan Board member in Gainesville. I know firsthand that not everyone in our community has had the opportunities that I have, and I want to change that. I will be a commissioner who will listen, and I believe in real community engagement. Gainesville will thrive by working together.  

I will serve Gainesville using my education, business, science and energy background expertise and experience to make common-sense policies and evidence-based decisions to achieve our long-term community goals. We need experienced leadership in local government now more than ever.

I believe we should focus our collective efforts on three core themes: 

1) Resiliency — Protect our neighborhoods, invest in public and electric grid infrastructure, and create affordable low-income and workforce housing 

2) Opportunity — Increase business and job opportunities for local residents, drive investment in East Gainesville and support community youth programs   

3) Inclusivity — Implement real public participation to include impacted stakeholders for major decisions and listen to citizens and experts.

I have lived throughout Gainesville as a renter and homeowner, and I intentionally moved to University Park in 2010 to raise my three children with my wife and to be part of a vibrant neighborhood and community. I value living near UF and near students. 

District 4 neighborhoods are the heart and soul of Gainesville. I will ensure that as Gainesville grows, our vital neighborhoods become stronger and we seek to maintain their character and function for residents.

I left Gainesville after high school and did not imagine coming home. After college, I began teaching science through Teach for America in rural Arkansas in the Mississippi Delta. I came face to face with abject poverty, explicit segregation and the plight of public education. 

After two years, I began teaching science and coaching soccer at my alma mater, Eastside High School. By coming back and teaching on the east side of town, I was able to understand that Gainesville has its own unique socioeconomic challenges. Through coaching and volunteering, I have made understanding and addressing these problems a focus.

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I left teaching and earned a degree in wildlife biology from the University of Florida specializing in Florida endangered species. After graduating, I followed in my father’s entrepreneurial spirit and started an environmental science and education company here in Gainesville. 

Like most small companies, it was a struggle. Over time my company became a success because of the local talented team we built where we empowered each other to collectively innovate, build, and serve each other.

We did many things including environmental training and education about prescribed fire, public participation around springs protection and local environmental permitting/planning. We eventually began monitoring wildlife for the wind industry and developed multiple wildlife monitoring technologies to lower the cost of monitoring and improve decision-making.

While I was working, I earned an MBA from UF to better lead and manage organizations. I sold my company to an employee-owned consulting firm where I became vice president and joined their board of directors. I then started a technology company at the UF Innovation Hub. I now work for an international independent nonprofit energy research organization where I lead endangered species research for the electric power energy sector, including solar and wind. 

I look forward to returning the investment that Gainesville made in me. 

Newman: teacher, environmental entrepreneur

Gainesville Sun- February 15, 2022, https://www.gainesville.com/story/news/2022/02/15/brian-eastman-christian-newman-battle-district-4-city-commission/6794569001/

Christian Newman, 53, grew up in Gainesville and has raised three children here with his wife, Jodie.

In 1991 began his career teaching science through “Teach for America” in the Mississippi Delta in Arkansas. 

“It was extremely challenging and rewarding,” he said. “And it gave me a real good sense of a lot of challenges that our kids face.”

In 1993, he returned to his alma mater, Eastside High School, to teach.

“I coached soccer. I was the Key Club service advisor,” he said.

He then went to graduate school, earning his master of science degree in wildlife ecology and conservation in 1997 from the University of Florida, and began working as a wildlife biologist.

He earned his masters of business administration from UF in 2002, and founded multiple environmental data consulting businesses, including Envirotools, Inc. APEM, Inc., and Pandion Systems, Inc. 

In 2010, he sold his environmental consulting company Pandion Systems, Inc. to Normandeu Associates, Inc. and then started at a technology company at UF Innovation HUB.

He now works for the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute, where he says he leads endangered species research related to the energy sector and renewable energy.

“I run their endangered protected species program as well as their environmental aspects of wind (program),” he said. “And I work in the environmental aspects of solar programs. I’m doing research around the interaction of energy and wildlife and habitats.”

For the last four years, he has served on the City Plan Board. He is a homeowner in the University Park neighborhood.

“Basically, Gainesville has invested in me, and I’m at a point in my career where I can return the investment,” he said. “I feel I have sort of a unique experience to bring to the city commission that I know will be different than what is currently on the city commission.”