Bryant making county run


Published: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Gainesville City Commissioner Rick Bryant will run for the Alachua County Commission District 1 seat now held by Mike Byerly, saying he would focus on improving the climate for small businesses and easing tensions between the county and the small cities.

Bryant cited the county's impact fees as a barrier to business and the recent gas tax increase as a blow to low-income residents as two factors that influenced his decision to run for the county post.

"With impact fees, if I want to open a small restaurant out on Archer Road or build something there, I'm looking at substantial cost," Bryant said. "With the gas tax, I think it is not sensitive to the needs of people of lower socioeconomic status."

Bryant, a Democrat, works in the University of Florida admissions office. He was elected to the City Commission in 2003. His seat is up this year and will be either Robert Agrusa and Thomas Hawkins in the Jan. 29 city election.

Byerly, also a Democrat, could not be reached for comment and has not announced if he will run for re-election.

Also in the race is Republican Ward Scott, who unsuccessfully challenged Byerly in 2004.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Scott or the winner of the Republican contest should another candidate enter it.

Bryant said relations between the county and the small cities have soured over several issues, including the cost and operation of fire departments. He said he will try to improve the situation by working more closely with the cities if he is elected.

"There is a real lot of tension with the municipalities. They feel that they don't have a voice, that they are not being listened to," Bryant said.

Parks and recreation along with after-school programs will also be campaign issues, Bryant said.

Cindy Swirko can be reached at 352-374-5024 or swirkoc@ gvillesun.com.

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