By Joe Courter
The City of Gainesville has an election coming up on Tuesday, March19. So for you voters in the City, or those who are not in the City but care about its leadership, here is our view.
First, the easy one. For those in District 4, re-elect City Commissioner Randy Wells. He is an outstanding, open-minded person and is taking the lead in trying to obtain the old state facility on NE 39th Avenue that can become a great human resource center.
Now the harder one; Mayor. Among the candidates we like two of them. Those two are incumbent Mayor Craig Lowe, and challenger Scherwin Henry.
Scherwin is a life-long Gainesvillian, and has seen and been part of the changing patterns regarding race and east Gainesville development since the ‘70s. He is a compassionate person and one who has been able to change his views and admit it when he may have been wrong, a rare thing among politicians. He was especially helpful in trying to resolve the 130-meal limit that was imposed on St. Francis House. This won him great praise and support from Arupa Freeman, a local advocate for homeless people.
Regarding Craig, he did a great job representing Gainesville during the whole Dove World Outreach circus, and otherwise for that matter, and has good ideas on the environment that won him the Sierra Club’s endorsement. It has been his fate to be mayor at a time when a small but quite loud group of people have been continuously hammering the City Commission over the now almost completed and operational biomass plant. As the Chair of the Commission; the one with the gavel, he has had to endure hostile, repetitious citizen comment periods, which has not been easy or at times smoothly handled. Perceived insensitivity on Koppers and homelessness issues have occurred as a result of this rancorous environment. That and the streamlined hiring of a friend and campaign manager as a staffer have cast a shadow on the otherwise good job he has done, especially with the stimulation of the Innovation Hub.
With six candidates, this may go to a run-off, which would occur April 16. Of special concern is the possibility of two liberal/progressives splitting that pool of voters, bringing the spectre of ex-commissioner and right wing talk radio jock Ed Braddy and his well-funded campaign into play. He might not win outright, but getting to the run-off is distinctly possible. Were that to happen, it is essential the Henry and Lowe supporters come together. Braddy is a reactionary ideologue, in no way representative of the Gainesville we love. It was troubling to us that, should it come down to a run-off between Lowe and Braddy, Henry would not say if he would support Lowe, and when asked further about that reasoning, he cited the same citizen comments and assistant hiring complaints; non-issues that are more personality attacks than ones addressing the overall future of the City. Based on this, therefore, we advocate people vote for Craig Lowe to be re-elected as Mayor.
So campaign and vote, and after that, we’ll see what happened and have more in the April Iguana.