Lauren Poe – Gainesville City Mayor – Questionnaire

EDITORS NOTE: All candidates running were asked to fill out questionnaire and given the same access to the questionnaire. The content of each questionnaire response has been left in its original format and has not been edited in any way by the Labor Coalition. The Labor Coalition does not endorse any candidates and the inclusion of these questionnaire responses to our website should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind.

What are the biggest issues facing working people in the City of Gainesville?

Many issues intersect to present significant challenges to Gainesville’s working people. Transportation challenges limit access to jobs based on geography, times and employer expectations. Housing is a huge challenge both because of cost issues, including but not limited to rent, locations, utility costs, access to quality schools, food or healthcare, and so on… Quality of employment opportunities is also an issue. A job that offers benefits, opportunity for advancement, work hour flexibility and paid time off all create barriers. Additional barriers include quality healthcare options, access to nutritious and affordable food, quality out-of-school programming for working families, competition for jobs with part-time students, and the list goes on.

Do you support paying a living wage for all City workers including part-time, temporary, seasonal, and contracted workers? (The ACLC defines a living wage as 125% of the Federal Poverty Level – currently $15.08 an hour)

Yes, and I continue to be committed to implementing the living wage plan agreed to between the city and the ACLC two year ago until we achieve a full living wage for all city employees.

The Gainesville Living Wage Ordinance for contractors has so many loopholes that it applies to almost no contracts the City currently has. To address this issue, Mayor Brady started to look into updating the Ordinance in December 2015, but no action has been taken until December 2018 when a six-month study was started. What will you do to ensure the timely and effective changes needed to the Gainesville’s Living Wage Ordinance?  

We have full implementation of the living wage extended to all people contracted to work for the city as part of our FY20-22 budget and are working on a verification procedure. The latter is more problematic, as most cities do not have a good verification procedure in place. I do not want to extend LW payments to contractors just to have them pocket the increased profit and pass none of the benefit along to the actual workers. I look forward to working with the ACLC to resolve this matter.

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

I would like to continue working with programs like GEAP (Gainesville Entrepreneurs facing Adversity Program), the Gainesville Housing Authority entrepreneurship program, Project YouthBuild, Career Source and other programs. This emphasis will help, in addition to of helping a resident find a good job, be able to create their own (and hire more people as they grow). I also think there are good opportunities to work with apprenticeship programs to create a pipeline between well-paying trades and jobs in areas of critical need such as masons, mechanics, and electricians. Better partnerships between the various trade organizations, UF, SF and the private sector can reap incredible benefits for our area’s underemployed.

What do you envision as the role of large local employers in Gainesville in helping to improve wages, benefit workers, and reduce inequalities? How have/would you encourage these large local employers to address these issues?

I have urged some of our largest employers to raise their floor, including my own employer Santa Fe College. The University, city, county and school board are some of the largest employers, not just in our county, but in the region. If we can set the standard, the private sector will need to follow in order to attract top talent.

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

Yes, and we are currently developing a policy in order to do so.

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

  • 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 and water efficiency.
  • Require universal licensing and safety/health inspections of all rental property.
  • Offer protections against discrimination based on source of income and citizenship status.
  • Ensure greater disclosure of renters’ rights and responsibilities.

Yes, and I am hopeful we will get this passed by late spring/early summer.

If you are an employer: Do you pay all your workers a living wage? If you do not: How are you making an effort to do so?

We have committed to a plan with the ACLC to fully implement a living wage within the next three years.

What are some policies the City of Gainesville can enact to improve access to quality, safe affordable housing in our community?

There is not enough space to do this question justice in the questionnaire, but some of the elements that need to be part of the discussion and possible long-term solution include: a more enhanced partnership with the Gainesville Housing Authority to build more public housing, allow Accessory Dwelling Units in all zoning areas, encourage rehabilitation, partnering with community land trusts, and pass an inclusionary zoning policy with teeth. All of this needs to be done with sensitivity towards issues of displacement and gentrification.   

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

Yes, and I am excited to understand more about the significant value this could bring to both the city and our community workforce.