Q&A with mayoral candidate Craig Lowe

Published: Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 5:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 5:51 p.m.

The Sun has asked the two candidates for Gainesville mayor a series of questions on local issues. Here are the responses from incumbent Mayor Craig Lowe.

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: We face the twin priorities of repairing our roads system and reducing congestion by giving commuters a full range of options including but not limited to cars. I favor a robust bus rapid transit system and enhanced bus service. Road repair and the expansion of bus transit are the two highest priorities we face; discussion of other options should take a backseat to these priorities.

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: I favor giving the voters the option to approve a sales tax that would fund road repair and resurfacing, bike lanes, and funding for bus transit. Reducing wait times, expanding bus routes and implementing a bus rapid transit system will reduce congestion, empower individuals, and be a major economic driver.

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 are just one "tool in the box," but when used appropriately and based on specific criteria including local job creation, they have an important role to play in attracting and retaining quality employers and the type of development we need to build a robust local economy. I will view all potential incentives on a case-by-case basis.

Q: What is your stance on the biomass plant and the 30-year contract to purchase power from the plant?

A: I supported the biomass plant in 2005 and still do. It will create local jobs, reduce our dependence on dirty, out-of-state energy sources like coal, and will be the best long-term choice for our ratepayers. Protecting ratepayers from the short-term increase in cost is our highest priority right now. As part of this strategy, the fuel adjustment will be ‘refunded' to ratepayers in the form of an offset on bills once the plant is online.

Q: What is your opinion of the city's anti-discrimination protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals?

A: I was a vocal advocate for policies that would ensure that LGBT people are treated equally in Gainesville.

These policies aren't just the right thing to do; they also make Gainesville more attractive to employers who know that they can hire the best-qualified employees in an environment where everyone is treated equally, and will serve as a long-term economic booster. These issues are one of the strongest areas of disagreement between me and my opponent.

Q: What do you see as the most significant differences between yourself and your opponent?

A: Voters have a clear choice between progressive leadership that has proven its ability to deliver new jobs and reduce property tax rates while protecting the environment, stand up for LGBT rights, ensure that everyone in our diverse community is treated equally and fairly, and been a strong voice for Gainesville on the national stage; and a conservative "anti-vision" that is actively opposed to the direction we've taken as a city.

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