After the election

Published: Thursday, April 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 at 10:58 p.m.

The race for Gainesville mayor was a hard fought, and toward the end, a bitter contest. It was also an extraordinary election in that virtually all six commissioners became actively involved in the campaigns of either Pegeen Hanrahan or C.B. Daniel.

While commissioners have as much right as anyone to participate fully in the democratic process, the precedent set in this election is a potentially disruptive one. Traditionally, sitting commissioners have remained above the fray; respecting the notion that, once the election is over, collegiality, not partisanship or ideology, is essential to doing the peoples' business.

Memo to Gainesville city commissioners: The election is over. Get over it.

The people have spoken. It's time for our city elected officials to put aside their personal grudges and political posturing and work to restore a sense of mutual respect and teamwork to a commission that has long suffered from a lack of it.

To be blunt about it, this current commission's record of achievement is a thin one. Under Mayor Tom Bussing's clumsy tutelage, personality clashes have often derailed wise decision making. With Bussing surrendering the gavel, now is an excellent time for a cultural shift - an attitude adjustment if you will - on the commission.

Mayor-elect Pegeen Hanrahan will come aboard knowing that three members of the commission vigorously supported her election and that three members did everything they could to beat her. Her formidable challenge will be to treat all commissioners fairly and to use her leverage as presiding officer to build consensus on important issues of public policy.

Commissioners don't have to agree on everything, but they do owe it to the voters and taxpayers to try to resolve their disagreements in the spirit of good faith and honest compromise.

This city has extraordinary opportunities to build new and more productive relationships with the University of Florida, the business community, the school system, county government and other essential partners. But before those external bridges can be built, there are rifts inside City Hall that need to be mended.

This was, unfortunately, a bitter election. But now the election is over. And in choosing Hanrahan by a wide margin, Gainesville voters soundly rejected the negative tactics and dirty tricks that had been deployed against her.

Surely, it is not too much to expect commissioners to follow the voters' example.

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