Bussing will seek 2nd term as mayor

Bussing's opponents, C.B. Daniel and Pegeen Hanrahan, have a head start in fund raising.

Published: Saturday, January 17, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 17, 2004 at 12:55 a.m.
Ending months of speculation, Mayor Tom Bussing announced plans to run for re-election Friday, six weeks before the March 9 vote and almost eight months after his two Democratic challengers got into the race.
"I think the voters are capable of deciding who they wish to support in a six-week campaign," Bussing said of his entry into the race one week before the qualifying date.
"As the incumbent, I have worked hard to represent the citizens, and I would like to continue to do that."
Bussing, 56, was a dark horse candidate in 2001 when he upset two-term incumbent Paula DeLaney with a campaign to protect neighborhoods and to be a voice for the average citizen.
A computer consultant with a doctorate in materials science before the election, Bussing now says being mayor is his full-time job. The mayor earns an annual salary of $32,996.
Bussing's decision to stand for re-election shakes up a race that had been shaping up as a contest between banker C.B. Daniel and Pegeen Hanrahan, former two-term city commissioner and executive director of the Florida Conservation Alliance.
The pair have a head start over Bussing in fund raising. Daniel has raised $31,225, and Hanrahan has raised $20,733, according to recent campaign finance reports.
Bussing has not raised any money because he is not yet a candidate.
"I am a little bit surprised he would jump in at this late date," Daniel said Friday evening, declining to speculate on the conventional wisdom that Bussing will draw votes from Hanrahan, who's closer to the mayor's positions.
"Politically, I'm not that smart to figure these things out," said Daniel, 64, who is chairman of the southern division of CNB National Bank and past president of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce.
But Hanrahan said "it's a fair assessment" that Bussing will likely draw more voters from her than from Daniel.
"I do think Tom and I have a lot of overlap in our constituencies," said Hanrahan, a 37-year-old engineer and hazardous materials manager.
Hanrahan said she's not worried about losing votes to Bussing because the city has a run-off election when no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
Although city elections are technically nonpartisan, having three Democrats now running also opens an opportunity for a Republican candidate to enter the race and benefit from a split Democratic vote.
Earlier this week, Travis Horn, chairman of the Alachua County Republican Executive Committee, estimated there's a "70-percent chance" a Republican may get in before Friday's the Jan. 23 qualifying deadline.
Hanrahan said a Republican entry would likely draw votes from Daniel and help her.
Bussing declined to assess the effect of his decision on the other candidates.
His campaign will include visits to as many voter forums as his schedule will allow, Bussing said, but his responsibilities as mayor will come first.
"I have worked hard, as I promised to do," he said, "and the voters should have the chance to make their decision on the candidates that are presented to them."
Carrie Miller can be reached at 338-3103 or millerc@ gvillesun.com.

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