JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The two most prominent elected officials in Jacksonville reviewed their accomplishments of the past four years and spoke about what's ahead as they began their second terms Monday in an inauguration ceremony at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts
Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams were sworn in before a small but enthusiastic crowd in Jacoby Symphony Hall. Both men easily won reelection in March.
Williams, sworn in by Circuit Judge Angela Cox, told the crowd, "It is an honor to answer your call to serve this great city as sheriff."
Williams highlighted the integration of crime-fighting technology and the creation of a high-tech crime monitoring center as key to reducing violent crime in Jacksonville.
Curry was then sworn in by Judge Gary Flower and delivered a brief speech during which he recommitted his administration to his vision for One City, One Jacksonville.
"Good can become better and better can become best," Curry said.
Both Curry and Williams mentioned that crime reduction and cited new programs and increasing the number of officers over the past four years have helped with the problem.
Yet the two begin their second terms as Jacksonville has experienced a spike in homicides and there is an increasing number of shootings involving in Jacksonville involving teenagers. In there first six months of 2019, there were 81 homicides -- the highest number of killings in the first half of a year in the past decade -- and 186 people shot, according to News4Jax records.
Williams said this is a challenge for law enforcement around the county.
"We have a small number of people engaged in this process and it’s all centered around gangs and guns and violence," Williams said.
The targets are the violence are not spread throughout the community -- they are targeting themselves over and over again.
In his inauguration remarks, Curry also spoke about family and his commitment to transforming downtown in his second four years, saying we will not recognize it when he leaves office.
Curry said we should know by the end of summer what's going to be in Lot J -- a proposed development in the parking lot of TIAA Bank Field.
"Lot J is a piece of that puzzle. We’ve taken possession of the Landing and, after demolition, (will be) putting out a request for proposals to see what its highest investments can be," Curry said. "Contrary to what some have said, I never suggested that should just be a green space. My opinion is part of it should be a green space."
Curry did not mention the proposed half-cent sales tax to fix and replace schools in his speech but said later that expects to support the campaign asking voters to approve the tax.
“I expect we are going to collaborate and get together and work towards a plan," Curry said.
Curry said he would only supports it on the November 2020 ballot, but added, “I will lead the charge and I will be all in.”
"I expect we are going to collaborate and get together and work towards a plan and I will be supporting a November 2020 initiative," Curry said. "I will lead the charge. I will be all in."
One highlight of the inaugural event remarks by Pastor John Guns of Saint Paul's Missionary Baptist Church. He gave an inspirational talk about people taking pride in Jacksonville and standing up for what is right. He called on the city's NFL team to help with that.
"Jacksonville Jaguars: let’s rise by finally bringing home a Super Bowl victory, so Duval can have the biggest parade and party that anyone has ever seen," Guns said.