In the final debate before the April 16 mayoral runoff election, candidates Ed Braddy and Mayor Craig Lowe discussed a proposed downtown conference center, transportation and the biomass plant Tuesday night.
The forum was held at Oak Hammock at UF retirement community. About 90 people attended.
Throughout the debate, candidates landed on opposite sides of every major issue.
Both candidates supported bringing a conference center downtown but differed on the right way to build it. Braddy said he wouldn’t support a tax-funded center, while Lowe said he supports tax incentives to make the building a reality.
“I think it would be a good thing to use incentives in a judicious manner,” Lowe said.
Regarding the city’s biomass contract, Lowe said he supports the contract, adding that biomass will diversify Gainesville’s fuel mix for electric generation.
“It will provide … financial security in the long haul when compared with other fuel sources,” he said.
Braddy disagreed, saying a motion he made during his term as District 2 city commissioner would have saved residents money.
“Had the City Commission followed through on the motion I made … we would be saving $260 million,” he said.
The candidates agreed the city’s transit needs aren’t being met, but they proposed different solutions to the problem.
Lowe said bus rapid transit is the answer, while Braddy said Lowe’s proposal would be too costly.
“We have better uses of $300 million,” Braddy said.
The candidates also differed on how to fund road maintenance.
Lowe said the city’s looking for additional funds.
Braddy said 80 percent of the city’s gas tax revenue is being diverted to uses other than road maintenance.
“I would support more proportionate use of existing revenue to help maintain the roads,” he said.
Mayor Craig Lowe and mayoral candidate Ed Braddy debate at Oak Hammock at UF retirement community Tuesday night. About 90 people attended.