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:
#1 in North America in Fodor’s “Places Rated and Ranked.” (2007)
#1 College Town by Livability.com. (2010)
“Best commute times in Florida” and #19 in the nation. (U.S. Census 2012)
We are in the top ten 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% 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 over 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 over 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