Q & A: Lauren Poe
Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 8:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 8:39 p.m.
Candidates for Gainesville City Commission were asked to keep their responses to 100 words or less.
Birthplace: Minot, N.D.
Occupation: Associate professor of economics and government in high school dual-enrollment program, Santa Fe College
Education: Master of education, social-studies education, University of Florida (1998); bachelor’s degree, history, UF (1993)
Political offices: Gainesville city commissioner, District 2 (2008-2011)
Past elections: 2008: City Commission, District 2 (won in runoff, 52.5 percent of the vote); 2011: City Commission, District 2 (lost in runoff, 45.4 percent)
Party affiliation: Democrat
Community involvement: Board of directors, Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network; donor, Gainesville Chamber Orchestra; donor, Doris Bardon Center; Black on Black Crime Task Force
Family: Wife, Emily Monda Poe, daughter Elizabeth Catherine Poe
Contact: 352-871-0895, firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Web: website
1. What are the biggest issues the city faces, and how would you as a city commissioner solve them?
Gainesville needs to broaden our economic base beyond the education and medical-care sectors. Gainesville also has a widening income gap that must be addressed immediately. Gainesville needs to protect the quality of life in our city and neighborhoods and ensure that we are a safe and welcoming city for all. I will address these and other important issues by working with my fellow commissioners, other agencies and all concerned community partners to ensure that we work as a team to solve any and all challenges.
2. The city is projecting a nearly $2 million shortfall for its two-year budget period ending in 2013. What initiatives should the City Commission put in place to raise revenues or cut expenses to make up the gap?
The city must continue to make prudent decisions with regards to staffing levels and recurring expenses. As a commissioner during the most challenging economic climate in generations, I was able to work with my fellow commissioners and city staff to balance the budget every year, cutting $15 million from the general government’s budget and over $30 million from the GRU budget. I have the experience and fiscal understanding to make sound budgetary decisions while protecting the core services our residents have come to enjoy and depend on, including public safety, infrastructure, and parks and recreation.
3. What are your thoughts on the city’s 30-year contract to purchase biomass power?
The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center is and will continue to be the most affordable and dependable means of base-load energy production for the residents of Gainesville. It is a renewable resource, will be fueled by waste wood currently being burned in the open or landfilled, will create hundreds of local jobs, and will diversify our energy production. It will also protect GRU’s ratepayers from significant increases in their bills if renewable portfolio standards are adopted by our state Legislature, a scenario that appears to be increasingly likely.
4. Do you support making changes to employee pension plans? Explain.
The goal of any pension plan is to be sustainable over the life of the plan. The policy goal for any of our city’s various pension plans should be that they are fair to both the employees and the taxpayers and the plans are sustainable over the 30-year horizon. I will work to make sure that the long-term fiscal health is a priority.
5. What steps, if any, can and should the city take to improve the local economy?
Gainesville has long benefited economically from our association with the University of Florida and our medical providers such as Shands, NFRMC and the VA. But as our community has grown, so too has the need to broaden our economic foundation. This is why I support Innovation Gainesville and a shift toward capturing the opportunities created by Gainesville’s world-class innovators. Growing the Innovation Economy will create a wide range of well-paying jobs for people with all levels of training and education. These jobs will be community-friendly, environmentally friendly and lead to opportunities currently missing in Gainesville.
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