Q & A: Armando Grundy
Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 5:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 5:48 p.m.
Candidates were asked to keep their responses to 100 words or less.
Occupation: Retail employee, Labor Ready
Education: Pursuing bachelor's degree in political science/international studies at Saint Leo University
Political offices: Alachua County Charter Review commissioner (2009-2010; appointed by County Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut); Alachua County Veteran Services Advisory Board (2011-present; appointed by County Commission)
Past elections: 2008: City Commission, District 3 (lost, 15.7 percent of the vote)
Party affiliation: Democrat
Community involvement: Graduate, 2011 Gainesville Citizens Academy; member, Springhill Missionary Baptist Church; African-American Accountability Alliance; Democratic Black Caucus; Affirmative Action Committee; 100 Black Men; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; veteran, U.S. Army
Contact: P.O. Box 5781, Gainesville, FL 32627; email@example.com
On the Web: website | Facebook
1. What are the biggest issues the city faces, and how would you as a commissioner solve them?
The greatest challenges facing our city are the lack of economic development, unemployment and underemployment. These issues are why there is a lack of good, quality paying jobs and lack of businesses coming to our community. These all correlate to the increasing cost of providing services and the shrinking revenues to provide those services. I would work toward creating a stronger partnership between the business community and local government and simplifying our Land Development Code and streamlining our planning/permitting process. This will create jobs, reduce crime and we will need to improve transportation to have access to those jobs!
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?
The city of Gainesville has cut nearly $15 million over the past five years, which shows our city has made an effort to be fiscally responsible. The city manager will produce a budget with the necessary cuts. Some areas we need to continue to look at in being good stewards of taxpayer dollars are setting priorities, which should be, but not limited to, public safety and infrastructure. By setting priorities and following the city manager, who has done a great job with the budget thus far, I am hopeful we are in the right direction.
3. What are your thoughts on the city's 30-year contract to purchase biomass power?
This is an issue that has been voted on unanimously by the City Commission and is already under construction, so as a candidate there is not much any candidate can do about the contract. Should the issue go through a legal challenge and is overturned by the court, then obviously the city will change direction. The biomass plant is already under construction, and I will continue to ask more questions and gather more information and be open to all points of view; however, I do not see much that can be done right now.
4. Do you support making changes to employee pension plans? Explain.
First and foremost I view an employee's pension plan similar to that of Social Security, and that is when someone has paid into a system. It is not an “entitlement,” it is “entitled to!” Currently our men and women in law enforcement pay nearly 7.5 percent of their earnings into retirement, and on their salaries that is a lot of dollars. Many of our officers and firefighters are underpaid as it is. I will be open to seeing the proposals; however, I am not for affecting our current workers.
5. What steps, if any, can and should the city take to improve the local economy?
I would work toward creating a stronger partnership between the business community and local government as well as simplifying our Land Development Code and streamlining our planning/permitting process. This will create jobs and reduce crime. By improving our transportation system, it will create access to those jobs that are sorely needed. A prime example of a good partnership would be with fostering a better relationship with Plum Creek as the city did with Prioria. These are some steps the city should take to improve our local economy by diversifying and understanding that everything does not begin and end on Southwest Second Avenue and Innovation Square.
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