Voice of the Voters for April 9, 2013
Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 4:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 4:05 p.m.
As mayors, city commissioners, county commissioners, legislators and school board members who have served collectively more than 150 years in office, we recognize that like most normal people, neither of our current candidates for mayor is without flaws.
Both have violated the law, and both have apologized and accepted the consequences the legal system has assigned. The difference is that Mayor Craig Lowe has been an active advocate for the positive efforts of the city of Gainesville for the past decade, and Ed Braddy has been a relentless, inflammatory and often dishonest critic.
The Gainesville Council for Economic Outreach lists dozens of different honors that have been granted to our community: No. 1 in North America in Fodor's “Places Rated and Ranked.” (2007). No. 1 college town by Livability.com. (2010) Best commute times in Florida and No. 19 in the nation. (U.S. Census 2012)
We are in the top 10 in installed solar energy in the United States, higher than the state of California per capita, because of our groundbreaking solar energy programs. We also have the lowest energy use per capita in the state, due in part to excellent and well utilized conservation programs. By the end of the year, more than 20 percent of our energy will come from local, renewable resources, making us the top performer in Florida in this category as well.
We have long been a leader in civil rights, and through commission support and citizen referendum we established a unique charter officer for equal opportunity who is accountable directly to the City Commission.
Our transit system went from carrying 1.2 million passengers per year (1996) to more than 10 million (2012).
Our police and fire departments are responsive, cutting edge and well respected. Gainesville manages traffic signal synchronization county-wide and has dramatically improved traffic flow and decreased congestion.
We've protected more than 10,000 acres of natural lands, and built new parks and recreation facilities all over town, through long-term efforts spanning decades as well as the recent voter-approved Wild Spaces Public Places Program.
Dramatic new investments and infrastructure in downtown and the areas near campus have yielded significant results, as have public improvements in East Gainesville, including the Martin Luther King Center, Cone Park, Cedar Grove II, the Depot Park, SE 8th Avenue and the Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center. Our innovation economy is thriving, an "overnight success" more than two decades in the making.
Profoundly, despite the falsehoods you hear, these achievements come with a property tax rate and a total cost of all residential utility services that are close to the median statewide.
This is not to say that our city doesn't have challenges and disagreements; clearly we do. But the negative rhetoric that comes from an angry vocal minority is greatly exaggerated and increasingly mean spirited.
Gainesville's charter calls for a directly elected mayor, but does not grant that office extraordinary powers. The mayor can set the meeting agendas, call meetings, issue proclamations and give speeches. The mayor alone does not set the budget or amend tax or utility rates, cannot pass or veto legislation and cannot hire or fire any staff.
A mayor who is politically or personally in conflict with the majority of the City Commission can speak for himself, but not for the city. Such an imbalance leads to power struggles, dysfunction, and two voices: one of the mayor, who alone has little power, and one of the commission majority, which will set the formal, legal direction of our local government.
Recent events notwithstanding, Craig Lowe has been a fine mayor, and he will continue to present a unified voice for the continued positive direction of our city. We endorse Craig Lowe, and ask that city residents vote for him on April 16.
We sign our names, with years of elective service listed,
Leanetta McNealy, 0.5,
Yvonne Hinson-Rawls, 1,
Susan Bottcher, 2,
Randy Wells, 3,
Lauren Poe, 4,
John Barrow, 4,
Robert Hutchinson, 4.5,
Thomas Hawkins, 5,
David Coffey, 6,
Jeanna Mastrodicasa, 6,
Jack Donovan, 6,
Warren Nielsen, 6,
Pegeen Hanrahan, 12,
Chuck Chestnut, 12.5,
Eileen Roy, 12.5,
Mike Byerly, 12.5,
Paula DeLaney, 17,
Cynthia Chestnut, 22,
Charles Chestnut, 24
The incumbent mayor seeks re-election, but does he deserve it? At the start of his term he hired a political crony at a good salary, and without a competitive search, to assist him with the mayoral position. None of his predecessors needed such a full-time position to do their legwork for the part-time duties of mayor. This hire alone raises serious questions about his ability to do the part-time job.
Recently he has demonstrated a reckless disregard for property and life. Some excuse it, saying "we all make mistakes" -- which is true. But a mistake is forgetting a dental appointment; DUI and reckless driving are crimes, not mistakes.
Others say "everyone deserves a second chance" -- also true. But a responsible leader would step down for a period to get his life in order out of the stress and limelight of city hall. Time out of office is required to re-establish trust and respect before getting a second chance.
Sadly, politics can trump reason. Hopefully a rational electorate will prevail in the upcoming election.
Gainesville voters have a clear choice in our upcoming mayoral election.
Craig Lowe is and always has been a progressive, forward-looking mayor who has laid a strong foundation for future and sustainable economic growth. As a pragmatic environmentalist, he has made this city a model of innovation and change.
Ed Braddy, on the other hand, has consistently proven in his role as a right-wing radio talk show host to be a tea party ideologue with a talent for divisiveness.
Both candidates have amply demonstrated their human weaknesses; but with our city's future at stake I strongly urge you to vote for progress and vote to re-elect our mayor, Craig Lowe.
Next Tuesday, April 16, Gainesville citizens have an opportunity to choose their mayor. The choice is clear.
We can continue in same direction of the past 10 years of skyrocketing utility bills and traffic congestion on crumbling roads while wasting our tax dollars, or we can vote for common-sense leadership and good government by electing Ed Braddy for mayor.
He is the candidate who knows what we need to attain prosperity for all the citizens and has the knowledge and leadership skills to take us there. Vote Ed Braddy on April 16!
OK, folks. The time is upon us. The mayoral election is about a week away. Many folks in Gainesville have decided which candidate they support, and there have been lively discussions on various sites about the pros and cons of each candidate.
The next step is to vote, and it is time to beg, plead and cajole to get everyone around you out to vote. The typical turnout for an election like this is around 10 percent and that just isn't going to cut it this time. The near future holds many critical issues and it is critical that every citizen get to vote their choice.
I know, the average person in this city is busy, working raising a family, intently concerned with providing a present and future for themselves and their family. But, I am telling you that you really need to get out and vote, if for no other reason than the fact that the politicians don't want you to vote! They only want their special core of constituents to show up, in fact they depend on it.
This is why the election is when it is. They don't want turnout because they might actually have to stand for something, they might actually have to stand up and be judged by their employers, the citizens of Gainesville.
If you are happy with the way things are, go vote for the mayor. If you think that Gainesville is headed in the wrong direction, vote for Ed Braddy.
But whatever you feel, vote! Don't let the special interests determine this critical election, rather let the citizens determine it.