Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy filed for re-election Monday morning, looking to win a second term in the upcoming March elections.
At a fundraiser Monday night to kick off his campaign, Braddy laid out his platform to an audience of about 50 supporters, which included local and state politicians.
Braddy said he plans to continue efforts to lower utility rates, make Gainesville more business friendly and create more opportunities for city residents — especially those with a low income.
City Commissioners Todd Chase, Craig Carter and Charles Goston promised to support Braddy and urged people to donate to his campaign.
"This re-election is really important," Chase said, adding that he expected the race to be close.
"One thing I can say about Ed is that he is not only unique, Ed is special," Goston said.
"Ed has done something no other mayor has been able to do," he said. "He’s been doing a balancing with our commission where we have the greatest harmony, the greatest love and the greatest friendship for each other that has ever been on that City Commission."
Braddy enters the mayoral race facing two opponents: former City Commissioner Lauren Poe and Gainesville resident Donald Shepherd Sr.
Braddy has served as mayor since 2013, following service on the city commission from 2002 to 2008, according to the city website.
Gainesville resident Debbie Martinez, who helped organize the fundraiser, praised Braddy for work he’s done to try to lower Gainesville Regional Utilities rates, which are among the highest in the state.
"Mayor Braddy has been able to bring our community together in a time we need it the most after this GREC biomass financial disaster," Martinez said in reference to the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center biomass plant, which she blames for spiking utility rates.
Braddy said lowering utility rates is a top priority.
"I feel that what we’ve accomplished in the first term is to effectively stop the bleeding, and a priority moving forward will be to get the rates reduced to a more affordable and competitive level," Braddy said.
Mayoral candidate Poe said he was anticipating Braddy would run for re-election.
Poe said he’s "going to let voters decide" in regards to Braddy’s highlights and low points as commissioner and mayor.
"I think Ed and I will have plenty of time to speak to the voters and draw contrasts between ourselves," Poe said. "I do believe that we have very different philosophies on the role of our city government and how we can empower our citizens through the actions that our government takes."
Shepherd did not return requests for comment as of press time.
Mayor Ed Braddy addresses supporters at the home of Randi Elrad and John Pastore on Nov. 9, 2015, after announcing he is running for re-election. He spoke about lowering GRU utility rates, continuing to make Gainesville business friendly, and further redeveloping east Gainesville.