Ed Braddy: Getting back to basics is right for present and future

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 2:38 p.m.

Because I don't pledge to spend a half-billion dollars on projects that benefit only a few of our citizens, my opponent Craig Lowe (and the Gainesville Sun) has accused me of lacking a "vision" for our city. I disagree. I have a clear vision. I just think wasting someone else's hard-earned money for pet projects is bad government.

As someone raising his children in this community, I want the Gainesville of tomorrow to be safe, prosperous and filled with opportunity and a high quality of life for everyone who lives here. In order to get there, we must make the Gainesville of today affordable for families, friendly to small businesses and competent in the services it provides.

The incumbent mayor has failed on these measures, and I am running to bring openness and accountability to the office, fiscal discipline to the budget and cost-effective services to the people. Here's how I would do it:

Let's start with basic bills. For most families, one of the biggest is electricity. Right now, Gainesville Regional Utilities cuts power to nearly 2,000 customers a month who cannot afford their electric bills. At the same time, our "owned by the people" power company is overcharging customers to create a buffer for the biomass plant. My opponent calls collecting more from customers than they owe a "mitigation strategy." I call it wage theft.

As mayor, my first goal is to get us out of the overpriced contract and refund the current overcharges to GRU customers. At a minimum, we should renegotiate. Talented people work for GRU, and many of them remember the days when our rates were the envy of the state. That's not the case these days. I'll fight to get us back there.

How about basic transportation? My opponent (now) says he wants to take care of our roads, but his record speaks for itself. Transit service is inadequate in east Gainesville, but my opponent wants to spend more than $300 million on bus rapid transit to primarily serve west Gainesville and another $128 million on a downtown streetcar system. That's just foolish.

As mayor, I'll work to fast track road repairs, oppose lane reductions and promote transportation equality. To improve bus service in East Gainesville, I'd vote to dedicate 75 percent of all new transit dollars to improving bus frequency on those routes. For those left out of the incumbent's "vision," reliable service means a better chance at a better job and a better future. That's more important than a trolley car between the University of Florida and downtown.

Then there's basic economics. My opponent repeatedly says we are living in an economy we have only dreamed about. Look around. Is this really as good as it gets? Small businesses struggle and close while my opponent promotes tax subsidies to politically favored projects, the benefits of which he claims will "trickle down" to the rest of us.

As mayor, I'll help grow jobs by helping small business owners — those that are homegrown, those that are just getting started and those that would already be up and running if it weren't for so much red tape.

As commissioner, I helped lay the groundwork for our innovation economy by reforming our development code to encourage high-tech jobs. But there's more to Gainesville than high-tech and bio-tech. I'll work to make life better for small business, because small business means jobs.

My campaign is about getting back to basics of good government. That means affordable services, roads that work and a city government that is open and accountable. We face many serious issues, and getting back to basics is the only sustainable way forward for Gainesville.

In this campaign, we have assembled the broadest coalition and most diverse range of support for a mayor's race in at least a generation. This is a campaign that looks like and represents our entire city. That's because our message to the voters is inviting, and our ideas and proposals leave no one behind and promote opportunity for all.

Let's get back to basics of good government and give Gainesville a brighter tomorrow. Vote for Ed Braddy on Tuesday, April 16.

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