Gigi Simmons – Gainesville City Commission District 1 Candidate Questionaire

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

Increasing costs of living without increases in wages, healthcare costs, lack of affordable housing, transportation costs/access, childcare costs/access

2) 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 $14.78 an hour)

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

     b. What is your plan to get us there?

I support a living wage for all City workers. Companies that contract with the City must place a notice of the City’s living wage and wage theft policies in the workplace. Contracted companies must provide documentation to the City of compliance with living wage policies. If non-adherence to the policy becomes a problem, I support periodic audits. Multiple violations would harm future contacts between the City and violating businesses.

I support a step-up policy to get to a living wage while also looking at wage compression at the mid-to-lower paid positions

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

The work that the Alachua County Labor Coalition has done to bring attention to improving wages from the county’s top employers is a big step in making workers and employers aware. Many of the inequity problems we are studying and attempting to address are related to poverty due to low-paying jobs. Jobs and wages must be a constant part of the conversation about solving these inequities.

4) 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 Hurricane Irma)?

Yes.  No one can predict the damages a natural disaster may cause nor adequately prepare or assist the most vulnerable in the aftermath.  I support providing leave for part-time, temporary, seasonal and contracted City workers. We owe it to our employees to make sure that peace of mind is afforded in such times and that no matter the circumstances as an employer we value their commitment in helping to serve the residents of this great City.

5) 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?

Yes. Often times in the past I’ve had to hire additional staff and I made sure they were paid a living wage.

6) 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. Information is important and we should make it easy for people to know their rights, including rights as renters. And an alternative to court make sense for rental disputes. The wage recovery ordinance has been an effective local, alternative solution to court fees that low-wage workers, many of whom are renters, are unable to pay. I know that utilities are a heavy burden on a monthly budget. Weatherizaton of homes is one piece of the puzzle in lowering utility bills. I support finding ways to increase energy efficiency in rental units. High utility bills due to inefficient systems and homes are a problem in my district.

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

I support using additional parameters that include social and economic requirements when evaluating bids for city projects. This may be in the form of a separate local hiring preference, or a general local economic impact preference. I want more vocational education training for young people in District 1 and in order for this to be successful, they must have a path to jobs after they complete their training. I need to learn more from the ACLC about local hiring preference and apprenticeship programs, but they are in line with my platform of more economic activities for District 1 and giving young people more choices for their future.