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Mayor's Challenges In First 100 Days

With City Budget Behind Him, Alvin Brown Turns Attention To Jobs, Economy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One hundred days since his July 1 inauguration, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, who is the River City's first African-American mayor, is grappling with a number of realities, most of which are tied to money.

Brown first swept into office focusing on education, jobs and the budget.

"I think everybody understands we're living in tough economic times," Brown said. "The unemployment rate is 10.4 percent. People are losing their homes. They've lost their jobs. It's really tough out there out. So we have to really live within our means, and that's what we're trying to do."

In trying to do that, Brown has come under fire for cutting budgets that led to Jacksonville Sheriff's Office layoffs and cutbacks in the city work force, along with looking to trim hours at city facilities like public libraries. The mayor says he did what he had to do.

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If Brown were to get a grade for his first 100 days on the job, what would it be. Political analyst Matt Corrigan weighed in.

"Well, for his entire term, it's incomplete. And the reason for that is he came in with a big agenda, and he hasn't really been able to get to that agenda yet," Corrigan said. "He had to deal with the budget first, and now that they've dealt with the budget, he's going to try to move on to the bigger things. And I think that's how he's going to be judged eventually."

So what's the mayor's focus for the next 100 days?

"I want to focus out reform to continue to streamline city government so that we can compete in the global economy," Brown said.

With creating jobs in mind, luring new companies to Jacksonville and growing the port, the mayor's tenure in office so far may be an indicator of his potential for success in the future.

"Well, he's obviously an energetic, optimistic person, and that's nice in our political dialogue right now. We don't see a lot of that. So I think he's got that going for him," Corrigan said. "I think his big challenge is converting these huge ideas about developing downtown, about improving our education system into reality. In other words, what are the facts and the details that are going to get us to those good positions and get us to a better place in the community."

Corrigan said Brown now needs to go to the community and let residents know what he plans to do beyond the campaign rhetoric. He needs to come forward with specifics and concrete ideas to deal with the issues beyond the day-to-day ones, Corrigan said, such as how he's going to grow downtown, how he's going to lure more jobs in Jacksonville and how he's going to help the city compete in a very tough global economy.