In a City Commission candidate forum Monday night, nine out of the 10 commission candidates answered questions about transportation issues and expressed support for a public transportation surtax.
The forum, hosted by the Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation and the Gainesville Cycling Club, gave each candidate the opportunity to answer four questions about bicycling issues, street redevelopment and the surtax.
Craig Carter, District 3 Commission candidate, was the only one missing from the forum.
One of the questions directed toward the candidates pertained to a Complete Street Policy, which was designed to enable safe, comfortable travel for all road users regardless of their modes of transportation.
While all the candidates supported the policy, at-large At-Large Seat 2 candidate Annie Orlando and District 2 incumbent Todd Chase focused on using already existing city funds to improve roads.
“Our challenge is how do we take the streets that are already built and improve them,” Chase said.
Additionally, eight of the nine present candidates expressed support for a public transportation surtax.
The only candidate to express distaste for the surtax was Orlando, who said the tax would add to the already high rates residents pay for energy and utilities.
Candidates like Sheryl Eddie and Cheri Brodeur, both running for the District 2 seat, supported the surtax concept but agreed that residential trust in the City Commission would have to be rebuilt before any new taxes could be imposed.
Other questions focused on providing public transportation for lower-income areas like East Gainesville.
Helen Warren, At-Large Seat 2 candidate, said she thinks these areas need a more dependable method of transportation to shuttle residents to and from their workplaces as well as to other areas of town.
“Transportation is a big barrier for many individuals who don’t have money for a car,” she said. “That’s where public transportation is a method for people to rise above their economic status.”
[A version of this story ran on page 9 on 2/25/2014 under the headline “Candidates talk tax, transportation issues at commission forum"]