James Schlachta said being a young Gainesville City Commission candidate is a catch-22.
On one hand, Schlachta, 33, said he has less work experience than most commissioners. But on the other, he said he can identify more with the college students.
"Although most students don't reside in Gainesville permanently, they make up the majority of this city's population," said Schlachta, who is running for City Commission At Large Seat 1 in the March 24 elections.
Schlachta graduated from UF in 1999 with an engineering degree and he said he wants to change how the commission looks at students. Students are affected by the local government when it comes to bar ordinances, for example, or taxes imposed through Gainesville Regional Utilities, he said.
"Now is our chance for the city to work with the students and make it a more college student-friendly town," he said.
Schlachta said if elected, he would bring more technical and budgetary experience to the commission.
In his job as coordinator of museum construction at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Schlachta helps budget proposed museum projects.
In these lean budget times, Schlachta said, the city should adequately pay police officers, firefighters and schoolteachers.
"The city government should concentrate on the well-funding of these jobs before expanding programs and working new ones into the budget," he said.
He said that officers and teachers train and start out in Gainesville but later move to Tampa or Orlando where there are better pay and benefits.
The commission tends to be out of touch with its constituents, he said, particularly on Charter Amendment 1. If passed, the amendment would remove a city ordinance protecting gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination. If it fails, Schlachta said he thinks pedophiles could abuse the right for people to use the bathroom of the gender they most identified with.
"One of the main reasons I'm running is because of the Charter Amendment 1," he said.