Q&A with mayoral candidate Ed Braddy
Published: Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.
The Sun has asked the two candidates for Gainesville mayor a series of questions on local issues. Here are the responses from challenger Ed Braddy.
Q: What do you feel the city's transportation priorities should be and what roles, if any, should bus rapid transit and a downtown streetcar or urban circulator have in the city's transportation system?
A: The priorities should be to fix the roads now, oppose lane reductions and reduce congestion. The incumbent has a grandiose vision to spend $300 million on bus rapid transit and $128 million on downtown streetcars. These plans would cost too much and carry too few. As mayor, I would increase bus frequency in east Gainesville and right-size the fleet rather than trying to lure affluent suburbanites out of their cars.
Q: What is your opinion of a potential 2014 sales tax for transportation? If you feel such a tax should be put to voters, please include the type of projects it should fund.
A: Any sales tax proposal should reflect the proportionate use in our community. Less than 4 percent of the non-student population rides the bus, yet the incumbent mayor wants to allocate most of any new revenue to mass transit. Roads are inherently multi-modal and their maintenance should be our top priority. If the sales tax proposal is loaded with fanciful projects like BRT, streetcars and lane reductions, voters should reject it.
Q: What role do you feel government incentives to developers, including the Qualified Target Industry program and the use of CRA property tax revenues, should play in economic development?
A: Incentives should play a minimal role. While a "tool" in the economic development toolbox, government incentives of any kind should be limited by both duration and dollar. Leaders should recognize the inherent weakness of creating an environment for political favoritism and command-and-control nitpicking by planners. The best "incentive" we can offer is affordable utilities, well-maintained infrastructure, and a short, transparent development process.
Q: What is your stance on the biomass plant and the 30-year contract to purchase power from the plant?
A: The contract was approved after I left office and is financially unsustainable. In addition to forcing us to pay double the market rate for fuel and having no additional capacity needs until the year 2023, the critical "back out" clause mysteriously disappeared during the incumbent mayor's watch. We should refund the current overcharges and seek to exit the contract because of GREC's contractual violation or, at a minimum, renegotiate the rate structure.
Q: What is your opinion of the city's anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals?
A: Although controversial at the time of its passage, the gender identity ordinance that joined existing anti-discrimination protections seems to have been settled. The concerns about discrimination I hear about come from apparent inequities in the city's purchasing and hiring practices, the lack of diversity among upper administration, and the inferior bus and street sweeping services in east Gainesville. The incumbent mayor has done little to address these legitimate concerns.
Q: What do you see as the most significant differences between yourself and your opponent?
A: Craig Lowe is indifferent to the everyday struggles of people living in our city. Our GRU bills are becoming unmanageable. Aging infrastructure, inadequate lighting and broken sidewalks characterize far too many neighborhoods. Small businesses struggle while the incumbent promotes "trickle-down" development by offering tax subsidies to politically favored projects. His extravagant vision will bankrupt us. I pledge an open, accountable and affordable City Hall for you and your family. Fiscal discipline strengthens our community!