Q & A: Richard Selwach

Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 7:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 7:48 p.m.

Candidates were asked to keep their responses to 100 words or less.


Richard Selwach



Age: 49
Birthplace: Queens, N.Y.
Occupation: Pawnbroker, landlord
Education: Associate degree, University of Florida (1983); business coursework, UF
Political offices: None
Past elections: 2007: City Commission, District 4 (lost, 10.4 percent of the vote); 2009: City Commission, At-large 1 (lost, 6.2 percent); 2010: mayor (lost, 4.4 percent); 2011: City Commission, At-large 2 (lost, 2.7 percent)
Party affiliation: Republican
Community involvement: Environmental activist
Contact: 352-371-4367; bestpawn@bellsouth.net; 523 NW Third Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601
On the Web: website

1. What are the biggest issues the city faces, and how would you as a commissioner solve them?

Government in the sunshine, high utility rates, clean city, safe city, fiscal responsibility, the environment: stopping the biomass plant, clean air, clean water, trees. How to solve them: Focus on essential services; lower utility rates by doing away with biomass deal and the solar feed-in tariff; require fast-food restaurants, adopt-a-street signs and bus stops to have garbage cans to prevent litter; prosecute and make graffiti bandits clean up; make sure property owners are notified correctly on things that affect their private-property rights; foster citizen participation and comments during meetings; air meetings on free broadcast TV.

2. The city is projecting a nearly $2 million shortfall for its two-year budget period ending in 2013. What initiatives should the commission put in place to raise revenues or cut expenses to make up the gap?

I am not for raising taxes. Government should focus on essential services -- get rid of the golf course, stop taking property off of tax rolls like Mom’s Kitchen, cut unnecessary departments such as the Equal Opportunity Office, cut mosquito control and fix the pension system.

3. What are your thoughts on the city’s 30-year contract to purchase biomass power?

There is no need for the 30-year contract to purchase biomass power. We should cancel the contract and add a buy-out termination clause. We should focus on conservation instead and look at alternatives such as solar or natural gas instead.

4. Do you support making changes to employee pension plans? Explain.

Yes, the defined-benefit pension plan has an unsustainable rate of return of 8-plus percent. We need to make the guaranteed rate of return equal to the 30-year treasury bond rate because it is safe and sustainable, and increase the retirement age to 65 before one can receive the benefit and look at 401(k) and Roth IRAs for new hires.

5. What steps, if any, can and should the city take to improve the local economy?

Tax incentives; create a vocational vortex on the east side of town to create skilled workers like machinists, a/c and heating workers, electricians and carpenters that will attract employers that will locate here, create jobs and employ people; ensure we have low utility rates to attract manufacturers and get rid of the biomass plant and feed-in tariff programs; get rid of Development Review Board to speed up the permitting process.

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