JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Terrance Freeman and Ju’Coby Pittman were sworn in as Jacksonville City Council members Thursday afternoon to fill the seats of two members suspended last month after they were indicted on federal fraud charges.
Republican Freeman, 43, is regional director at Ygrene Energy Fund and was recently an aide to council President Aaron Bowman. He will fill Reginald Brown’s seat in District 10. Freeman ran for State House District 12 in 2016 but was defeated in the primary.
Democrat Ju’Coby Pittman, 54, will take over for Katrina Brown in District 8. Pittman is CEO and president of the nonprofit Clara White Mission. She made a run for the At-Large Group 5 council seat in 2015, but finished second to Samuel Newby.
“If I tell you I’m going to do something, I’m going to do something," Pittman said.
"I know I was appointed, so I’m not coming in with all the answers. I’m coming in listening," Freeman said.
Gov. Rick Scott suspended Brown and Brown, who are not related, June 1 after a federal grand jury unsealed a 38-count fraud indictment May 31. Both are Democrats.
Scott appointed Pittman and Freeman, who will serve out the City Council terms that expire next June unless the Browns are reinstated.
Freeman's appointment has sparked some questions. News4Jax learned Freeman did not live in District 10, which is required under the city charter. But he told Bowman he had signed a lease to move into the district and was relinquishing the homestead on his Mandarin home.
Some have also criticized Scott's choosing a registered Republican to fill the seat of an elected Democrat in a district that consistently votes Democratic. Councilman Garrett Dennis said he was gad the two districts again have dedicated representatives, but questioned the lack of transparency in the choice of Freeman, calling it a "back-room deal."
'I can’t help but question the logic of choosing an individual who did not live in the district, has never campaigned in the district, and will take all 10 months he sits in the seat to learn the people, learn the streets, learn the parks and learn the needs of the area," Dennis wrote in a statement to News4Jax.
Freeman thinks his actions in office will satisfy any questions of his commitment to those he will represent.
"I would hope that after the work that you see that’s going to be done, I really don’t want to keep talking about it. I’m ready to get out and do work. At the end of the day, I’m going to earn your trust," Freeman said.
Pittman and Freeman each will have two spots on council subcommittees. Council President Aaron Bowman has vacant seats on the Land Use and Zoning Committee, the Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee, the Rules Committee and the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee.