Voice of the Voters for Feb. 25, 2013
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 25, 2013 at 5:33 p.m.
Consider the consequences of the combined reign of Scherwin Henry and Craig Lowe: A $3 billion, 30-year biomass contract that will raise your power bills; investments in the money-losing Ironwood golf course; hundreds of thousands of dollars lost due to lack of accountability of the now defunct Gainesville Housing Authority; narrowing of lanes; crumbling roads; job-killing regulations and fees; plans to spend millions on bus rapid transit and most recently a $55 million plan on parks and a performing arts center.
Craig Lowe is in a position to renegotiate the biomass contract for better terms for ratepayers, but has refused. His leadership has been disastrous for the ratepayers of Gainesville Regional Utilities and the citizens of Gainesville. Sending either of these ideologues back to the city commission is the definition of insanity. Support and vote for Ed Braddy for citizen representation on the city commission.
It is refreshing to see a local campaign built on a positive vision and not a relentless criticism of others. Mayor Craig Lowe has reached out to voters with a presentation of his own accomplishments and his vision for a second term, and he has a strong case.
Craig has delivered on the goals he set out in 2010: thousands of new jobs, strong environmental protection, safer neighborhoods and a higher quality of life. He has made tough decisions and stuck by them, occasionally in the face of criticism, and has balanced that with collaboration and negotiation with community leaders to get solutions for our residents. This is the mark of real leadership.
While there is always room for debate on the direction of our city, Craig's first term has overall been a great success, and I am proud to say that I am voting to re-elect him on March 19.
Florence M. Turcotte,
At the Democratic Black Caucus forum, former commissioner and mayoral candidate Scherwin Henry backed away from his previous votes and support for the flawed biomass contract. He stated he'd never have supported the contract, knowing what he now knows. Henry claims he was “misled,” about it, and he's “accountable to myself,” for his votes.
Mayor Craig Lowe adamantly stands by his votes for the biomass debacle. Lowe's biomass contract forces Gainesville Regional Utilities ratepayers to significantly overpay for electricity for the next 30 years, unless a new mayor and commissioner are elected who will fight for the people.
Former commissioner and mayoral candidate Ed Braddy has consistently opposed the biomass contract, promises to work to have it voided, and pledges to be accountable to the citizens.”
Braddy does his homework. He understands that true sustainability means being able to pay your electric bill. Braddy's fiscal discipline will strengthen our community. Braddy has my vote.
I'm very proud of Gainesville's record of environmental stewardship. Policies that balance development with the need to preserve a clean, safe environment aren't an afterthought; they're a vital part of what makes Gainesville such a wonderful and unique place to live. That's why I'm supporting the campaign to re-elect Mayor Craig Lowe on March 19. During his time in office, Craig stood up for environmental land protection numerous times (when some of his opponents did not). Under his leadership, Gainesville Regional Utilities is moving away from a dependence on out-of-state coal and working to make buildings more energy efficient.
Craig has kept Gainesville focused on environmental protection and stewardship, even as Gainesville has added thousands of net jobs and continues to develop. If a clean, safe environment and a high quality of life are a priority for you, please join me in supporting/voting for Craig Lowe on March 19.
Study the candidates
I urge my fellow citizens to become educated about the mayoral candidates. Our city, like our nation, is at an important crossroads. Each vote we make should be strategic and one that will move us toward a more prosperous future. It is idiocy to vote for someone because they are a friend, or because of skin color, or because of sexual orientation.
For mayor of Gainesville, there is only one choice: Ed Braddy. Braddy has the experience, the expertise and the intelligence in a combination none of the other candidates possess. Please study these candidates, because only in doing so will you make a good decision. Otherwise, you are just voting for someone you know and you are not part of the educated electorate.
Each time I drive past an Ed Braddy for mayor sign, I am reminded of his record as a Gainesville city commissioner. When asked about the plight of homeless people in Gainesville, he responded that they should all be handed a one-way bus ticket out of town. Our next mayor needs to be capable of compassion for all people in our town.
The Gainesville mayoral race is shaping up as it has so often in the past: no shortage of candidates and an upcoming shortage of voters. The voter deficit is, in my view, what has enabled a disciplined group of progressives, often energized by socio-cultural perspectives, to take charge of our community and, to some degree, its resources.
The answer, in my view, is for the mayoral opposition candidates to coalesce around one candidate. In this way, I believe, the range of interests in our community will be better represented and we will be on the way to restoring traditional issue-oriented politics.
We live in a place of dangerously unmaintained roads, the highest property tax rate in the state and the biomass plant -- an appealing classroom idea gone wrong in the real world.
At what cost?
Mac McEachern's Feb. 20 "On the Stump" column was right on point.
The city commission has created many problems for the citizens of Gainesville: roads in poor condition, a narrowed Main Street, a municipality that has more than doubled its debt to $987 million in the just the last six years alone.
And what have we gotten for all the money this city commission has spent? A golf course that few people use, crumbling roads and now one of the ten highest municipal electricity rates in the state.
In six short years we have turned city commissioners that governed responsibly, with policies that encouraged new working class businesses to start here, into a den of thieves that takes money from regular ratepayers and taxpayers and transfers it to select groups. I think we can do better than this.
At least one of the mayoral candidates should think we could do better too, and if elected will promise to call for an audit of city expenditures over the last six years. What did we get? How much did it cost? And in hindsight, was the benefit worth the expenditure?
Pope Benedict XVI leaves office this week. The new pontiff will have a major challenge as the first leader of the Catholic Church not born before or during Vatican II (1962-65): Despite the current Christian-phobic public culture in Europe and North America that increasingly regards biblical morality as irrational bigotry, critical Catholic engagement with the contemporary world will accelerate. Religious freedom will be the new focus.
"That means the right of both individuals of conscience and religious communities to live their lives according to their most deeply held convictions, and the right to bring those convictions into public life without civil penalty or cultural ostracism.” George Weigel wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 13.
Praying at an abortion provider is one example of where these things come down locally. What candidate for mayor of Gainesville will address this issue before the election, if not before the Feb. 28 meeting of the public safety committee?