Randy Wells – Alachua County Commission District 2 Candidate Questionnaire

1) Do you support paying a living wage to all County workers including part-time, temporary, seasonal, and contracted workers? (The ACLC defines a living wage as 125% of the Federal Poverty Level – currently $14.78 an hour).

I absolutely support paying all public employees and contractors a living wage, thereby serving as a role model for other employers throughout the county. I specifically support the pledge to budget funds to bring all employees up to $15 an hour, and the existing county ordinance that requires contractors to pay a minimum wage of $13 per hour plus benefits or $15.04 without benefits.

a. How will you ensure contracted workers are paid the set wage?

I strongly support the existing right of contracted workers, if they are not paid the required minimum wage, to file a Wage Recovery Complaint through the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office. I am open to strengthening this process if needed.

b. What is your plan to get us there?

A living wage for all public employees and contractors is within reach, and I will be a determined voice to get there and stay there. However, political and budget constraints remain a challenge to keep that wage from being eroded by inflation and living costs. For example, the Federal minimum wage in 1968 was approximately $11.60 per hour, adjusted for inflation.

The only way to achieve that goal, given limited resources, is to insist on quality, collaborative management that empowers every staff person to create great value and a meaningful career path. As county commissioner, the challenge of quality management will be the metric by which I judge our top management—and in particular the rubric for selecting and evaluating our county manager.

To protect the living wage, we must capture the benefits of paying a living wage. Providing a living wage will help us build and retain local talent, and help address wide income disparity throughout the county—saving dollars and strengthening the local workforce. Investing in the skills of our staff will create value to both the employee and the taxpayer.

c. What ideas do you have to help improve wages and benefits for workers throughout our community?

My campaign is all about improving the livelihood of workers across Alachua County. My vision is to make ours a premiere “community of opportunity”—and my election would be a strong message by voters that all local stakeholders—public and private—must work together in that cause.

Thus, I am discussing specific policy proposals with voters across the county, in six areas:

1) Healthy Environment for All; 2) Wages; 3) Apprenticeships; 4) Entrepreneurship for All; 5) Quality, Integrated, and Affordable Homes; and 6) Safe & Accessible Transportation. Progress in each of these areas will help improve the livelihoods of all workers, and I have a track record both as a city commissioner and civic activist leading, advocating, and voting for action in each of the six policy areas.

Wages are one critical part of improving the quality of life for all residents. I will be a steady but strong voice encouraging every major employer to join the cause for living wages.

Over the long term, we must continue to grow our local economy, primarily by investing in the skills of our residents. And we must celebrate the many private employers already paying living wages or better—and encourage more to join us through efforts such as the ACLC’s Living Wage Certification Project. I am proud to have encouraged many business owners I know to pursue certification.

I also support the two ballot initiatives that will help make 2018 the Year of the Child in Alachua County, and will do much to help the livelihood of families with children: The Children’s Services Council, and the School Facilities Sales Tax.

2) Do you support providing paid administrative leave for part-time, temporary, seasonal, and contracted county workers in the event of emergency work closures (e.g., hours missed due to Hurricanes)?

Absolutely yes. All county workers should receive the same leave benefits in the event of emergency work closures. We can no longer leave our most vulnerable workers and their families “out in the cold” during times of emergency—precisely when income is most needed to deal with crisis.

3) Do you support a “Renters Bill of Rights’” which would:

  • inform renters of their rights under existing laws
  • offer an alternative to costly courts to settle disputes over security deposits and damages
  • protect renters from high utility bills by enacting policies that require landlords to make basic investments in energy efficiency

Yes. We can and should do a better job of informing renters of their rights and provide an easier way for renters and property owners to cheaply adjudicate disputes. I propose that the county establish a special magistrate (similar to one I helped establish for city codes enforcement) to adjudicate disputes under the proposed “Renters Bill of Rights” ordinance. I also support requirements for landlords to make basic investments in energy efficiency, provided they can be shown to be cost effective, and will seek ways to cheaply finance those improvements so as to not harm landlords make those investments.

4) Do you support a local hiring preference that includes the use of certified apprenticeship programs for taxpayer funded projects?

Yes. I favor a local hiring preference (as clearly provided for in state law) for taxpayer funded projects, to include the use of high quality, certified apprenticeship programs. Hiring local talent and expertise ensures our tax dollars stay within our community and support additional local jobs and business development. Apprenticeship programs are an excellent way to develop our local workforce and the county can be a leader in supporting these programs. My vision (outlined above) includes making Alachua County known as Apprenticeship Central – with an eventual goal of creating or maintaining 2500 paid apprenticeships and internships countywide.