Runoff voting is Tuesday for city mayor


Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 2:52 p.m.

City of Gainesville voters will decide between two candidates with different views about the current state of Gainesville's economy and vision for the city when they go to the polls Tuesday in the 2013 mayoral runoff election between incumbent Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe and former Gainesville city Commissioner Ed Braddy.

Facts

MAYOR ELECTION

What: Runoff election for Gainesville mayor.
When: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday.
Where: Precincts in Gainesville only.
Miscellaneous: Early voting is 9 a.m-5 p.m. through Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at the County Administration Building, 12 SE 1st St.
Information: Call 352-374-5252 or visit www.votealachua.com.

Voters can also take advantage of early voting from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at the Supervisor of Elections Office in the Alachua County Administration Building at 12 SE 1st St.

Election day voting will take place from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday at voting precincts in Gainesville only.

Pam Carpenter, county supervisor of elections, said 188 voters cast ballots on Monday, the first day of early voting. She said 156 votes were cast on the first day of early voting during the March 19 city election. By Tuesday afternnon, according to Will Boyett, chief deputy county supervisor of elections, 125 voters had cast their votes.

Braddy and Lowe have different views on most of the issues that are important to voters, especially when it comes to the economy and the 30-year contract the city signed in 2009 to buy biomass fuel from the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center.

Lowe, a trained biologist and computer programmer, said the current economy in Gainesville is one "people have been dreaming about for a long time," and throughout the campaign, he has highlighted the success of Innovation Square, a public/private partnership that focuses on research and high-technology business development on the site that formerly housed Alachua General Hospital.

He said the jobs being created at Innovation Square and at Prioria Robotics in downtown Gainesville will be the catalyst for other jobs being created in the community.

"Those jobs will create a multiplier effect," said Lowe, 55, who has been endorsed by the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County, Alachua County Young Democrats, Equality Florida, North Central Florida Central Labor Council, Human Rights Council of North Central Florida, St. Johns/Suwannee Sierra Club and The Gainesville Iguana.

Braddy said he doesn't know many people who have "dreamed about the economy" that Lowe refers to, and he said the best way to grow the local economy is to make it easier for small businesses to operate in the city.

Braddy said he will fight to make it easier for small businesses to get started by doing his best to persuade other commissioners to vote to loosen regulatory requirements that make it hard for small businesses to get off the ground.

"We must make it easier for small businesses to do business in Gainesville," Braddy said. "Small business owners are the ones who hire the most people in an economy."

On the subject of the biomass plant, Lowe said he stands by his position to support the contract.

"I did vote for the biomass plant and I believe it will diversify our fuel supply and it will keep those funds that go toward purchasing fuel in our region, therefore promoting economic development within our region," Lowe said. "In the long term, it will be the best course financially for our ratepayers."

Lowe said he believes the more than $20 million collected so far with the fuel adjustment fee should go toward paying for future fuel costs as intended.

Braddy said he will fight to return the fuel adjustment money back to GRU customers because it doesn't make sense to charge people now for future energy costs.

Braddy said he will work to get out of the contract because it locks the city in for 30 years with no back-out clause and it forces the city to pay twice the market rate for fuel.

Braddy, 41, has worked at Santa Fe College since 1998, serving as the college's testing coordinator for the past six years.

He has been endorsed by the Builders' Association of North Central Florida, Fraternal Order of Police Gator Lodge #67, Gainesville/Alachua County Association of Realtors, Gainesville Firefighters International Association of Firefighters Local 2157 and the North Central Florida chapter of the Police Benevolent Association.

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