Mark Venzke plans to run for Gainesville mayor
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.
One year after vying for a seat on the Gainesville City Commission, Mark Venzke now is campaigning for Gainesville mayor.
Venzke’s platform consists of three broad planks: having a “fully responsible” energy policy, having open and responsive government, and enabling “socially and economically disengaged” people while revitalizing struggling neighborhoods.
Venzke said he feels that, on issues like the biomass power purchase contract and the Koppers Superfund site, commissioners have not taken the input and concerns of residents seriously.
He says the city needs to work to renegotiate the 30-year biomass contract, which he says is too long, pays too much for energy and — at 100 megawatts — purchases too much electricity.
On Koppers, Venzke said he does not believe city government has pushed and lobbied federal officials hard enough to clean up the contaminated former wood treatment plant and nearby properties. He said Gainesville should forge a partnership with other local governments that have Superfund sites with Beazer East Inc. as the responsible party for cleanup. Venzke said the governments could jointly pursue legal action and “collectively put forth enough muscle to go against the goliath that is Beazer East.”
On energy, Venzke said the city needs to “expedite the deployment of renewable energy sources” beyond its solar feed-in tariff program. He said the city should work to facilitate increased private sector installation of solar electric and solar thermal systems.
In a city with multiple business and technology incubators, Venzke said the city needs to work with community and private sector partners to “co-locate” education and training programs with those incubators.
On transportation, he said the city needs better designed bicycle lanes as a safety improvement, a more active road maintenance program and better bus service in east Gainesville.
He said he supports the city’s efforts to bring a homeless shelter and social services center to the property of the closed Gainesville Correctional Institution.
Venzke, 55, said he is an entrepreneur working to start an electric taxi service in Gainesville.
In 2012, he ran for an at-large seat on the City Commission. In an eight-way race, he received 190 of the votes cast, or 1.56 percent.