Q & A: Darlene Pifalo
Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 6:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 6:56 p.m.
Candidates were asked to keep their responses to 100 words or less.
Birthplace: Camden, N.J.
Occupation: Realtor, Prudential Trend Realty
Education: Haddon Heights High School, Haddon Heights, N.J. (1960); graduate, Realtors Institute (1989); Certified Residential Specialist (1990)
Political offices: Affordable Housing Study Commission (2004-2009; appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush and re-appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist); Alachua County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (2007-present; appointed by County Commissioner Rodney Long)
Past elections: None
Party affiliation: Republican
Community involvement: Gainesville Pet Rescue; No More Homeless Pets; member, Chamber of Commerce; member and past president (2001), Alachua County Board of Realtors; member, North Central Florida Home Builders; president and founder, Friends of the Animals of North Central Florida; fundraiser for The Humane Society of Alachua County, Gainesville Pet Rescue and Big Brothers Big Sisters
Family: Single, and all my children have four paws[a]
On the Web: website
1. What are the biggest issues the city faces, and how would you as a commissioner solve them?
Cost of the biomass/GRU cost to not only the citizens of Gainesville but of Alachua County too, and how to stop it from going any further. Less regulations with helping businesses get started to have more jobs for citizens of Gainesville and help privatize some of the services that the city doesn't have to do, which should save tax dollars.
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?
When we can privatize services, this will cut what government spends to do these and would help small business hire more people, which would cut the unemployment and cut crime that comes from high unemployment. Have a more open bid for jobs done by the city so more small companies can have an opportunity to help with city needs too. More questions have to be asked during the budget process, and the budget should be reviewed every six months to see if the dollars allocated to departments are spending them in a proper way. Wasteful spending should not be in the budget and must be accountable by the commissioners too, not just staff.
3. What are your thoughts on the city’s 30-year contract to purchase biomass power?
As a Realtor for over 38 years, I don't think any contract should be for 30 years because of new changes that come online. I believe there should be a review every year for accountability of GREC to make sure they are living up to the contract and it needs to be amended with a cancellation clause to protect the citizens of Gainesville and Alachua County.
4. Do you support making changes to employee pension plans? Explain.
Changes are always good when things change, and once in office I'll want to study the pension plan to see what can be improved and things that need to be changed and perhaps it should be in the sunshine, so everyone knows what the employees' pensions are all about. I want to study this issue because it includes so many people if not all that work for the city.
5. What steps, if any, can and should the city take to improve the local economy?
If the city doesn’t look closely at regulations for small businesses it's time to do it now. I feel it's time to get a group of businesspeople together to get their thoughts on what's needed to help with a positive growth pattern for the city. Also, without good parking in the city, no one will come and spend their dollars. If we don't grow with businesses, the unemployment will go higher and then more crime, because the small businesses will go out of business, and we don't want to put a sign when people drive into Gainesville "going out of business." We want to say "welcome and how can we make your business more profitable" because small business is the backbone of not only Gainesville, but the county and country.
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