Tackling the difficult issues

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 3:39 p.m.
When I took office as city commissioner in 2003, Gainesville faced serious challenges that required leadership and vision.
Our single family neighborhoods faced threats due to a disproportionately large number of rentals with landlords, often absentee, that denied neighbors the right to peacefully enjoy their homes. Neighborhoods also faced the prospect of incompatible developments that added undue traffic and drastically impacted their character and safety.
A proposed large discount store and associated developments threatened our Hogtown Creek watershed in a manner that could leave the creek alternating between an occasional raging flood and a usually dry creek bed. Our remaining ecologically important natural areas were threatened with development as well.
Gainesville was blessed with a public utility able to chart an energy future with the values of the community in mind. Yet we faced the prospect of constructing a coal-fired power plant that would increase the percentage of energy produced by coal from less than 70 percent to more than 90 percent while the public was becoming increasingly aware of the human impact on the environment due to global warming.
As commissioner I have led the way toward instituting a higher level of code enforcement and have provided neighborhoods a means to opt into front yard parking regulations. We identified and implemented a funding source for these programs that would not raise property taxes. As commissioner I have advocated for keeping incompatible developments away from neighborhoods. Also, I have scrutinized incentives for development and have voted against these more often than any other commissioner while still promoting responsible economic development.
I actively opposed the big box paving of land in the Hogtown Creek headwaters and turned back three different proposals that would have damaged the creek or permanently converted a park into a big box development. Most of the site at the creek's headwaters is now slated to be a park preserving the natural character of the area. In fact, as commissioner, I successfully implemented a recurring item in our annual budget to acquire and preserve additional natural areas before they are destroyed.
As commissioner I led efforts to bring about the changes at Gainesville Regional Utilities that were necessary to greatly increase the number and size of energy conservation programs, especially those including low income residents. Instead of moving ahead with additional coal power, we will be evaluating a wide range of renewable options.
If re-elected, with the experience and knowledge gained from these four years of service, I will be even better able to bring about the changes and policies that will keep Gainesville moving forward.
Craig Lowe is running for re-election to the Gainesville City Commission District 4 seat.

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