Lowe: 'I accept responsibility for my actions'


Mayor Craig Lowe, right, leaves the Alachua County jail on Thursday afternoon, accompanied by campaign manager Nick Mildebrath.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.

Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe issued a statement Friday afternoon accepting responsibility for the actions that led to his arrest a day earlier on a DUI charge following an early morning accident.

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Mayor Craig Lowe, right, leaves the Alachua County jail on Thursday afternoon, accompanied by campaign manager Nick Mildebrath.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun

"After the events of the past 24 hours, I have determined that the best course of action, both as an elected official and personally, is to accept responsibility for my actions in getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after having consumed alcohol, regardless of blood-alcohol level.

"I recognize that this is more than just a legal issue, but a personal one.

"I will accept the consequences of my actions and face the sanctions that are deemed appropriate by the State Attorney and/or the Court. I will submit to an alcohol abuse evaluation and abide by any recommendations necessary to assure both myself and the public that this type of conduct does not recur.

"Over the next few days and weeks, I will continue to perform my duties as Mayor and work hard as a candidate for re-election.

"I regret that my actions Thursday morning have disappointed so many friends, supporters, and citizens of Gainesville. I hope that in the future I will again prove worthy of the public's trust and confidence."

Earlier Friday, his campaign said Lowe would remain in the race for re-election and that he plans to be back at City Hall on Monday.

"He's staying in the race definitely," said Nick Mildebrath, Lowe's campaign manager.

Lowe was arrested early Thursday morning and booked into the Alachua County jail on charges of driving under the influence with property damage and careless driving.

The Thursday morning arrest came after Lowe, 55, was involved in a single-car accident at about 2:20 a.m. in the area of Northeast 21st Street and 156th Avenue, which is north of the Gainesville Raceway.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Lowe smelled of alcohol at the scene and performed poorly on a field sobriety test, according to an arrest report.

Lowe told troopers he had had three beers that evening — the last at 10 p.m. — and fell asleep at the wheel, according to the FHP report.

He was arrested just before 5 a.m., about 2 hours after the crash was reported. A breath test performed at the jail registered a blood-alcohol content of .061 and .069, according to the report. Under state law, anyone with a blood-alcohol level above .08 is presumed to be too intoxicated to drive.

The mayor was released from jail late Thursday afternoon after County Judge David P. Kreider signed an order releasing him on his own recognizance.

As part of his pretrial release, Lowe was ordered not to possess or consume any alcohol during the pendency of his DUI criminal case.

Shortly after Lowe's release, his campaign released a statement just before 7 p.m. Thursday that said: "I apologize for the harm that this situation has caused to my friends, supporters, and the citizens of Gainesville. I feel that it's important to set the record straight. In the coming days, additional facts will come to light and I believe that I will (be) found not guilty in this case.

"I'm also thankful that no one was hurt, and I'm deeply sorry to anyone who feels I have violated the trust placed in me as an elected official. Moving forward, I will work hard to regain your confidence and trust. I look forward to getting back to work for the people of Gainesville."

Efforts to reconcile the differences between Thursday's and Friday's statements were unsuccessful. Lowe's campaign said he would not be taking questions, and Mildebrath said he did not know where the mayor was. Knocks on the door of the mayor's residence went unanswered Friday.

With Lowe absent, Mayor Pro Tem Lauren Poe presided over Thursday's commission meeting. Poe said early Friday afternoon that he had not yet spoken with Lowe.

"I haven't talked to him," Poe said. "I want to give him his space to deal with whatever he needs to deal with on his own."

On Tuesday evening, Lowe advanced to an April 16 runoff in the mayor's race against former City Commissioner Ed Braddy. In 2006, during his second term on the City Commission, Braddy was arrested for DUI after striking another vehicle traveling on Northwest Sixth Street. He took a hiatus from the commission, entered treatment and pleaded no contest to the charges.

"I used it as a turning point," Braddy said in an interview Thursday. "I hit rock bottom and had to look at myself and what I was doing and change how I was living. … My thoughts are the test of character is how you respond to something like this. I say that not as his rival in a race but as someone who has been in a similar situation."

Lowe is scheduled to make his next court appearance on April 11 for his arraignment, where he will enter his plea to the charges against him.

Staff writer Maru I. Opabola contributed to this report.

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