Stone files for re-election to Marion County Commission in 2024
Commissioner Michelle Stone is shown during a Marion County Commission meeting in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.
Michelle Stone has entered the race to be re-elected to represent District 5 on the Marion County Board of County Commissioners.
Stone, 59, has served as a commissioner since she was first elected in 2016. She is running as a Republican against candidates Nicole Meade, a Republican, and Jose “Manny” Alonso, an Independent.
“I don’t look at this as an elected position but more as a job,’’ Stone said. “And I’ve spent a lot of time doing the homework, making tough decisions and feel like I can still lead Marion County.”
In addition to her duties on the county commission, Stone also serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Transition Life Center and United Way of Marion County.
If re-elected, Stone said she wants to keep her focus on the traffic that “we all face every day.”
“An area that we’ve not talked about a lot is building a flyover to keep traffic on Maricampflowing over Baseline,” she said. “That’s a congested roadway. We need to identify a long-term solution there and get a funding source identified for that area.”
A huge portion of funding for roads and infrastructure may come from the penny sales tax, which if renewed by voters in 2024 will bring in about $36 million a year over a 20-year term.
“The voters have the say on whether or not that’s going to be a funding source that we can count on to help make some of these issues come to light,” she said. “That does bring in dollars, not just from people who live in Marion County but those that are visiting, those that are passing through and utilizing our roadways.”
Stone said one of the commission’s accomplishments that she played a role in over the past term was working to improve access to affordable housing.
“We’ve helped over 378 units through our community services, and we’ve spent $4.3 million toward that just this past year,” she said. “At my suggestion, the board … agreed for staff to utilize a community land trust for our surplus properties. That will ensure that we have affordable housing built on those properties that will stay affordable housing for perpetuity going forward.”
Stone said she hopes to prioritize preserving farmland in the future by creating a more robust transfer of development rights program. As the commission prepares to revisit the county’s comprehensive plan, as they do every seven years, Stone said she hopes to see a step down in development between rural land and urban growth.
“I am keeping our vision in focus, and that is to keep Marion County a safe, well-planned community with a thriving economy that supports the high quality of life where family matters,” she said.