Emails, calls voicing opposition to potential JEA sale pour into City Council office

Council staff say office has received large number of emails, about 30 calls from angry constituents

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Calls and emails to the City Council office are giving insight into how many people have voiced opposition to the thought of the city selling JEA.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry emphasized Monday that the process to determine what JEA is worth and how much a company would be willing to pay for it is vital to the future of the city utility. He stressed he is not committing to the sale of JEA, which would be up to voters, but he said JEA’s worth needs to be examined.

On Tuesday, the mayor’s comments were still creating a buzz at City Hall, where the City Council office has received a large number of emails and about 30 calls from constituents opposed to the possible sale of JEA, according to council staff.

“I am sitting in my living room with 12 native ‘Jacksonians’ and we say leave our JEA alone. We are making sure we know who will vote for or against JEA,” one caller said.

Another caller said: “I am shocked that the council is even considering selling the JEA. It is the goose that lays the golden egg every day."

Many constituents who have sent emails support former Mayor Jake Godbold, who published a letter Monday in the Florida Times-Union, blasting the proposed sale, and spoke Monday to a City Council committee, urging the council to stop the talks right now.

One email said, “No sale of JEA To a private company no with anger and wrath.”

Others “blame Mayor Curry,” and said, “It’s a disaster, tragedy and crime" and "hopes the council can stop this.”

Late Tuesday afternoon, about a dozen people with the Northside Coalition gathered at City Hall to demonstrate against the potential sale of JEA. They said they’re against the idea of selling the utility and they will continue to hold demonstrations as long as talks continue.

Northside Coalition demonstration
Northside Coalition demonstration (WJXT)

A poll from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab found bipartisan opposition to the idea of selling JEA.

Curry told News4Jax on Monday that he is listening. Curry stressed this is only a discussion.

“I get approached all the time in grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants, so I got a pretty good idea on the pulse of what people want to talk about," Curry said. “People are not uncomfortable with the process as long as they know what is happening in the process.”

He added: “We must talk about it, make sure the people are informed, and if we arrive at a decision, it will go to the voters."

When asked whether they are keeping a tally of the calls, the mayor’s staff said no, but they are keeping track of emails.

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