JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville City Council Member Anna Lopez Brosche wants to become the new mayor of the River City, and her feud with incumbent Mayor Lenny Curry has been very public -- especially in recent weeks.
Positive and negative ads and statements from both candidates have flooded websites and TV broadcasts. News4Jax anchor Joy Purdy has spoken to both Brosche and Curry in one-on-one interviews, to give our television viewers and online readers more insight into who both mayoral candidate are prior to Jacksonville's First Election on March 19.
Below is what Brosche had to share with us. Joy's interview and in-depth online feature with Curry premiered Monday.
Brosche's personal life, background
Brosche admits to Joy she works a lot. Away from City Hall, she is a certified professional account and the managing partner of one of Jacksonville's largest CPA firms -- Ennis, Pellum & Associates. CPAs.
"I always played Monopoly growing up," Brosche said excitedly. "I was always the banker. So I knew very early that I was going to be an accountant."
In the business for more than 25 years, she told Joy she's been with that same accounting firm for more than 16 years.
Family's military service
Before being bitten by the bookkeeping bug, she said the love for accounting may have been in her blood.
Her mother picked up several jobs over the years which included bookkeeping, as Broche's father -- a retired senior chief in the U.S. Navy, originally from the Philippines -- moved their family of four to different areas of the country.
During her father's 24 years of naval service as a senior chief disbursing clerk and pay master, it was his job to make sure sailors were paid.
Helping keep life in order on the campaign trail and at home, Brosche credits her husband of 15 years, David Brosche.
After spending 13 years himself in the U.S. Navy, David is now a commander in the Navy Reserve -- with 22 years of total military service so far.
How they met
Brosche first met her husband back in 2003 on Match.com. The blended family now lives in the Cedar Hills area with three children: a 12-year-old son, a daughter in college, and an adult son.
The couple says the way they met online is a more modern version of how Anna's own parents met. Her parents were introduced through a mutual friend and became pen pals, writing to each other for four years before tying the knot and moving to Jacksonville where Anna was born.
She grew up in the Murray Hill area, and attended Ruth N. Upson Elementary School and John Gorrie Middle School. The Navy then reassigned her father to another city during Brosche's high school years.
The family eventually returned to Jacksonville.
Juggling work and family
Brosche credits her family for everything.
"I have a great, supportive family," she told Joy as Brosche's parents arrived at the house with her 12-year-old son.
Her parents live just a few miles away, and Brosche says they've been hugely instrumental in helping maintain kids' schedules and keeping everything on track.
"It's just making sure that all the trains are running on time and that we still enjoy some really quality family time together," she explained. "Making sure that we connect and spend that healthy time together."
Brosche told Joy time at the beach is also a big stress reliever.
"I love to hunt for sharks teeth out of the beach and have a pretty sizable collection," she said, showing us the bowl full of different sized sharks' teeth. "That's what I do; kind of go and just be with myself and have some time alone, and connect with nature I guess is the best way to put it. It's really good for me."
Brosche is sure to also credit what she calls a great team working at her CPA firm, keeping that well-oiled machine running smoothly.
"When you empower people to make decisions, and when you empower people to be a part of solutions," she said with a smile, "so much happens."
Brosche's faith plays an important role in keeping her life balanced; though she said she's hesitant to talk about it while on the campaign trail.
"I am a Christian," she said firmly, "and I definitely would consider myself someone who turns to my faith in making decisions and the experiences that I have in life, and my service to the public."
However, when asked by a local religious group to complete a questionnaire about her faith, Brosche said she declined to do so.
"Faith is a very private and personal matter," she explained. "I really don't want to use my faith to get elected. I am a very faithful person, and I appreciate the opportunity to keep that something private and amongst my family."
Brosche's run for mayor
Brosche said prayer was among the things she leaned on when deciding to run for mayor of Jacksonville.
When Joy asked why she waited until just minutes before the deadline to register as a candidate, she said she was taking every opportunity she had to make that final decision.
"I know this is a really big decision," she said reflecting on that day. "I knew going in that I was going to be attacked; I was going to be lied about. (I wanted to) make sure that I was making the right decision for me and my family, and my community."
Response to attack ads
Even before she formally registered to run for mayor, a political committee supporting incumbent Mayor Lenny Curry released its first attack ad.
The committee, "Jacksonville on the Rise," used a "Jeopardy!"-like parody to accuse Brosche, among other things, of voting to increase her own pay twice.
"It did happen," Brosche said. "I did tie my salary to the state scale."
She went on to explain that vote was a vote on the city's budget, which included pay raises for all city council members -- not just her. We checked. The state does have a formula for what county commissioners throughout Florida should be paid, and Jacksonville's city council salaries are based on that formula.
"I don't benefit from my salary at the city," Brosche told Joy. "My agreement with my business partners (at my CPA firm) doesn't allow that to be the case."
She said her city council pay gets deducted from the salary she receives from her CPA firm.
Brosche also addressed other claims against her in recent attack ads, claims she told Joy are half-truths.
"Those ads are desperate attempts to spread half-truths and misinformation to divert people's attention away from the 'Curry Crime Wave,'" a term she uses to describe the city's recent violent crime.
"So I’ll give you an example. One of the meetings that was cited that I missed, I was at the Supervisor of Elections office as a part of the canvassing board certifying the November elections, as we headed into a recount, at the request of my council president."
"And then furthermore on turn limits, I’ve voted to put the question of term limits on the ballot for the people to decide. I would not have made that decision on my own, and so I voted to put it to the people."
Brosche told Joy, if elected Mayor, she wants to see city government that's more effective in engaging citizens.
"There's so much need. I would love a city that wraps its arms around all of its citizens," she said. "We used to have a time when our neighborhoods were very engaged. We have a lot of distinct and different neighborhoods. Many of which feel they are kind of left out."
Brosche is critical of the current administration's decision-making process.
"Questions aren't welcome in terms of the agendas that exist within the city," Brosche told Joy, shaking her head. "I would have a more open door. I would have a more transparent website. I would have more transparency as it relates to our budget and what vendors were paying, you know. Where is the city's money going? The people want to know," she said.
When it comes to curbing crime in the city, Brosche points to an incident that scared and frustrated her entire family. She shared a photo with Joy showing a large tree limb sticking through the roof of her home, touching a bed in which two of her children were sleeping when Hurricane Irma hit.
"We had three trees on the house and lots of water coming in for the rest of the night," she recalled.
She said the family grew frustrated when their home was burglarized before repairs could be made -- hit by thieves three times in one week. But, Brosche said, working with her neighbors and police, the criminals were caught.
She said if elected mayor, she wants to see that type of community involvement when it comes to tackling crime.
"More working with the neighborhood, to improve their particular conditions," she said. "What the census data shares about those neighborhoods and what is the city's responsibility to serve the neighborhoods and to make sure that they have infrastructure and resources that they need to actually be more engaged on their own."
Brosche said the city also needs to better service young people.
"We're serving about 36 percent to 38 percent of kids who are living at, or below, poverty," Brosche said.
She wants to see a better commitment to early learning; the re-dedication of skills training in schools because, as she said: "not every child is going to college."
Brosche also wants to expand of the city's teen courts programs for young people on the wrong path, and a stronger, broader mentoring system.
"We've got to make sure that we're touching more of our children in a way that doesn't let them fall through the cracks," she said.
First Election March 19
While the March 19 election may appear to be a primary, it is technically called the First Election and is open to all registered voters -- no matter your party affiliation.
If you have not yet registered to vote, the deadline to register in time to vote for this election has passed.
Besides mayor, Duval County voters will also vote for other constitutional offices: sheriff, property appraiser, and tax collector.
The position of supervisor of elections is up for election this year, but only one candidate qualified, so incumbent Mike Hogan will automatically win.
Additionally, all 19 city council seats (14 districts and five at-large seats) are up for election, although some of those offices only had one candidate qualify, making them the automatic winner.
In order to win, a candidate must get one more vote than 50 percent of the votes that are cast. If no candidate breaks that margin, then the top two candidates -- regardless of party -- advance to the May 14 general election.