With less than a week until Tuesday’s Gainesville city election, candidates discussed local business, the soft closing of bars, utility rates and homelessness Wednesday night.
UF Student Government’s Chomp the Vote agency hosted the forum in the Reitz Union Rion Ballroom. About 60 people attended.
Mayoral candidates Ed Braddy, Scherwin L. Henry, Pete Johnson, Donald Shepherd, Mark Venzke and incumbent Craig Lowe participated along with District 4 candidates Alfredo Espinosa, W.E. “Mac” McEachern and incumbent Randy Wells.
Espinosa said he wants to create a liaison between UF’s Career Resource Center and the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce that would notify students of internship and job opportunities in the city.
Venzke, Johnson and Lowe support soft closing. McEachern said that soft closings have been done before and didn’t work, but said he is “willing to listen to anything that you have to present.”
Wells said utility rates have declined for typical users, but rates in other parts of Florida have dropped more. Espinosa said the city should get out of its current biomass contract. Lowe disagreed, saying that biomass is cost-effective in the long run.
Braddy said the biomass isn’t environmentally friendly.
“That biomass plant is going to consume 1.4 million gallons of water per day,” he said.
Mayor and City Commission candidates speak to students at the Chomp the Vote forum Wednesday evening at the Reitz Union.