Harvey Budd

Harvey Budd 

Harvey Budd is good with numbers.

He ran an accounting business with other students out of a small office during his junior year at UF then graduated from the Fisher School of Accounting in 1969. Since then, he’s started his own accounting practice, built a motel and founded two TV broadcasting companies “before it was cool,” he said.

Budd, 67, knows what it’s like to be a business owner in Gainesville.

Now a candidate for city commissioner at-large, Budd aims to provide equal opportunity for all Gainesville residents, to re-evaluate Gainesville Regional Utilities management and to help young professionals launch their businesses.

Budd, sporting an orange Gator T-shirt, sat at Bagels Unlimited in late February describing his platform.

His first mandate, he said, is lowering — or at least leveling off — GRU rates.

“There’s a lot of outstanding issues that people are fighting over right now about the viability of the utility in general and whether we can afford to have a biomass plant,” he said.

He wants to establish an advisory board to serve as a layer between GRU management and the commission. The five to seven advisers would analyze the situation based on best utility practices in the state and provide recommendations.

He also wants to bring manufacturing jobs to East Gainesville. He wants to provide vocational training and employment to the portion of the population for which college may not be a viable option.

“We desperately need jobs for everybody, not just the tech community,” he said.

Mark Goldstein, former Gainesville city commissioner and mayor, grew up with Budd in Gainesville and shares many of his views.

“He’s always had a sensitivity and concern for less advantaged people,” Goldstein said. “His commitment for the public interest has always impressed me.”

Budd has served on the Alachua County Planning Commission for 14 years, the city’s plan board for five years and on the cultural commission for three. He’s a member of the Alachua County School Board One Mill Oversight Committee and is involved with the Hippodrome State Theatre, UF Hillel and the Congregation B’Nai Israel synagogue.

The list goes on.

“The big thing is giving back,” he said. “That’s the secret of success by me: Give more than you take.”

Budd said he also wants to help young entrepreneurs through crowdfunding. If elected, he would choose one business or idea a month, market it and ask the community to donate to that particular business.

“It would be basically for innovators — anybody in the community that has a good idea,” he said. “Rather than struggle with that good idea or sell it off to somebody else who steals it, they’d have a chance to develop it and stay in Gainesville.”

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 3/11/2015]