Hanrahan works on transition

Advisory panels are planned


Gainesville Mayor-elect Pegeen Hanrahan thanks voters at the corner of University Avenue and Main Street on Wednesday.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, April 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2004 at 11:29 p.m.
Sometime after Pegeen Hanrahan shook her opponent's hand Tuesday night and before she began waving thank you Wednesday morning to passing cars at the corner of University and Main, Gainesville's mayor-elect began implementing a transition plan.
Hanrahan, a 37-year-old environmental engineer who already has served two three-year terms on the City Commission, has big plans between now and May 20, when she will replace outgoingMayor Tom Bussing.
She defeated banker C.B. Daniel by a 57-to-43-percent margin in Tuesday night's runoff election. Bussing, who ran for re-election, was eliminated in the initial March 9 election.
Hanrahan said she already has begun reaching out to recruit members for a series of advisory committees - "not very many and not for very long" - to help develop a plan for the future in areas such as recreation, transportation, economic development and the redevelopment of east Gainesville.
The committees will be unofficial, she said, and last only until she's sworn in as mayor. Hanrahan said she plans to recruit to the committees supporters of her challengers in the most recent election: Daniel, Bussing and Michael Belle.
"To me, one of the real challenges of being a good leader in Gainesville is to recognize that we have a very diverse community with people who have very different views of how we should move forward," she said. "I want to reach out to people who have been supporters of my opponents, because I think it's important to kind of recognize that the campaign is behind us.
"The love of the community is what we all share."
Her advisory committees will be charged with coming up with "things that are very easy; some low-hanging fruit; some tougher things; and then some things that are very difficult but that we should do," she said.
For example, Hanrahan said the committee on recreation might recommend that the city's recreational facilities could be put to better use if they were open different hours.
Right now, she said, some of the recreational facilities for children are open during the time youths are in school but closed in evening hours when they would be more heavily used.
In addition to making policy suggestions, Hanrahan said the advisory committees will be asked to develop a timeline, estimated costs and potential partners to implement their suggestions.
Among Hanrahan's top list of priorities for her term are redeveloping the east side and forging a closer relationship with the University of Florida.
"We have a great plan in Plan East Gainesville," Hanrahan said of a redevelopment blueprint developed during her previous term on the commission. "It's time to find the builders of that blueprint."
The change in leadership at UF, with new President Bernie Machen, "is a great opportunity to form a closer relationship between the university and the community."
Hanrahan will have her own relationship-building to do on the City Commission, where three commissioners actively supported Daniel in the mayor's race: Ed Braddy, Tony Domenech and Rick Bryant.
She had the active support of the remaining three she will serve with, however: Commissioners Warren Nielsen, Craig Lowe and Chuck Chestnut, setting up a potential majority voting bloc.
"I'm not too worried about it," she said of the commissioners who opposed her. "They're all good people and they're there because they care about the community.
"We just need to focus on where we can find some common ground."
Carrie Miller can be reached at (352) 338-3103 or millerc@gvillesun.com.

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