Ed Braddy: Getting back to the basics of good government
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:42 p.m.
Gainesville is a great place with wonderful people, and government's challenge is to address our changing needs while preserving the qualities that make our city attractive.
I am running for mayor to bring fiscal discipline to the budget, cost-effective services to the citizens and accountability to the office.
The incumbent has failed on these matters. With serious cost impacts from the biomass plant looming, the overriding issue is neither the fuel choice nor the lack of demand on capacity but rather the reckless contract with the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center obligating us to pay twice the fuel market rate for 30 years with no back-out clause.
Craig Lowe failed to protect Gainesville Regional Utilities customers and because general services are dependent on the annual GRU transfer, our quality of life is now at risk.
As mayor, I would seek to terminate the contract or at least renegotiate the terms for lower rates and eliminate the current fuel adjustment overcharge. The driving principle must be to lower costs to customers and restore long-term stability to the utility.
Another example of the incumbent's poor leadership is his misleading promotion of bus rapid transit (BRT). Lowe maintains that BRT is integral to east Gainesville, yet the Hawthorne Road corridor has been dropped from projected routes. The incumbent has never discussed realistic ridership projections (very low) and is silent about the conversion of travel lanes to dedicated bus-only lanes on major roads that would worsen traffic congestion.
With a price tag pegged at $300 million (The Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization's "Cost Feasible Plan"), it is irresponsible to push for BRT when basic transit needs are unmet. Service for those dependent on transit is too often curtailed when students leave town. Plus, more than 90 percent of us travel by automobile, yet the incumbent's "vision" is to remove traffic lanes and allow what's left to deteriorate into disrepair. As mayor, I would dedicate 75 percent of all new transit dollars to improving bus frequency on east Gainesville routes and reallocate more of the gas tax to road repair and resurfacing.
The incumbent credits himself with Innovation Square but limits this model to the university-context area. Lowe's record on economic development amounts to massive tax giveaways to politically favored "smart growth" developers while saddling small businesses with rising energy costs and complicated regulatory codes.
As a former city commissioner, I was the only dissenting vote against the huge subsidies offered to the University Corners project. As mayor, I will ensure a fair playing field for all, time-sensitive interactions with city departments and maintenance of core infrastructure to promote quality job growth.
My "back to the basics" approach may seem out of place with the extravagant agenda of the incumbent and other candidates, and I offer no grandiose (and expensive) vision of how you should live, work and travel.
Just the fundamentals of good government — open, accountable, and with services provided at a cost no greater than necessary — is my sole pledge. We must make Gainesville affordable for families again. I ask for your vote on March 19.
Ed Braddy is one of six candidates for Gainesville mayor.
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