Todd Chase: When scare tactics come from city hall

Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 2:37 p.m.

When scare tactics come from city hall

Apparently diversity and acceptance is encouraged and embraced everywhere except for our local government. Choice should not be confused with fear.

Imagine a world where new ideas are not welcome, no difficult questions asked, where elected leaders all possess the same views giving us nothing but unanimous votes one after the other.

Is this really what you want from your government? Why have elections?

Diversity on our City Commission yields valuable debate and discussion on topics critically important to the future of Gainesville. Decisions made concerning GRU and our transportation infrastructure, for instance, will lock our citizens into commitments lasting decades and costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ironically, I agree with Commissioner Susan Bottcher's assertion Monday (Speaking Out, "The world is watching our city now") that this year's campaign rhetoric has reached disturbing levels.

The scare tactics used by those who share the "collective vision" she speaks of are reaching extreme levels. Anyone expressing a different view is met with contempt, and this highlights the challenges one has in bringing new ideas and thought to what has long been a governing super-majority with very little, if any, checks and balances.

Gainesville is often described as a place of great acceptance and diversity. Apparently that is encouraged and embraced everywhere except for our local government. Differences in political philosophy and budgetary prioritizations should not be confused with political negativity. Choice should not be confused with fear.

Policy direction on a local level should not be taken solely in order to impress and appease a global audience. We cannot ignore the realities of the very serious situation many of our residents face right here in our own backyard.

When a citizens' home is foreclosed, a local business bankrupt, or a family's health insurance dropped after a job loss; citizens would like to see a commission that understands. They would like to see a sign that their local leaders get it and represent their best interests.

When you vote on Jan. 31, do so knowing that you have clear choices between the status quo and those vested in protecting it from changes and new ideas that offer alternatives and improvements on the status quo as we move forward. Look carefully between the politics of exclusion with the promise of inclusion. We need diversity of thought to help solve the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities of the future.

Todd Chase is a Gainesville city commissioner.

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