At the Thursday night City Commission runoff candidate forum, a debate about city issues was partially clouded by sharp comments from each candidate about her opponent.
Helen Warren and Annie Orlando, the commission candidates, will compete for the at-large seat in the election Tuesday. The topics included urban development, transportation and Gainesville Regional Utilities issues.
When discussing the city’s budget, Warren said Gainesville is facing challenges the city has never dealt with before.
“We do have a crisis,” she said. “There’s not a single department out there that can say, ‘We haven’t already been facing budget cuts.’”
Referencing Warren’s comment about the budget, Orlando said she was “glad that Helen finally wants to have a conversation (on budget issues).”
Orlando cited refinancing debt as a way for the city to control the budget and focused her attention on the appointment of a new GRU general manager.
“GRU is going to need to have someone who is forward-thinking so we can evolve and be a viable company,” she said.
In the closing remarks, Warren focused on why Orlando should have run for County Commission instead of City Commission.
“(Orlando) shows that if things don’t go her way, she sues the city,” Warren said. “So Annie, I think you would have been a great candidate to have gone for county.”
Orlando quickly questioned how many city committees Warren had served on. She closed by citing her involvement and reflecting on her support.
“We need not just the nicest person but the one who is the most prepared and most qualified for the job,” she said.
[A version of this story ran on page 9 on 4/4/2014 under the headline "Runoff candidates criticize each other at city issue debate"]