Three years ago, Todd Chase ran for City Commission because of his mother. A retiree living on a fixed income, Chase’s mother felt the bite of Gainesville’s fire assessment fee, which was adopted by the commission in 2010 to plug a hole in the budget.
“She was sitting there, she had tears in her eyes, and she said ‘Where am I gonna get this money?” Chase said. “That’s when the light went off for me, and I realized local government affects our lives more than any other level.”
Chase, 47, is running for re-election in the District 2 race in Tuesday’s city elections. With rising utility rates and a roughly $20 million city deficit looming, Chase said he’s looking to lend his business expertise gained from his Harvard MBA and leadership in about a dozen start-up companies.
During his first term, Chase butted heads with other commissioners over issues such as the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, Gainesville Regional Utilities rates and red-light cameras. In this race, his main goal is maintaining GRU’s viability as a business because it provides almost half of the city’s roughly $100 million operating budget.
Sam Coons, Chase’s best friend of 25 years, said Chase’s business experience and integrity make him a great fit for the office.
“He brings a common-sense perspective that’s very unique,” Coons, 52, said.
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 3/10/2014]