'It’s a blow’: City, state leaders react to the former Mayor Jake Godbold’s death

Godbold died Thursday at his Jacksonville home. He was 86.

The death of former Jacksonville Mayor Jake Godbold drew emotional reactions from some of the city and state leaders who knew him best.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The death of former Jacksonville Mayor Jake Godbold drew emotional reactions Thursday from some of the city and state leaders who knew him best.

Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Carlucci called Godbold a father figure in a statement to News4Jax.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry also released a statement shortly after the news of Godbold’s death broke.

U.S. Congressman John Rutherford offered his condolences on Twitter.

Former Jacksonville Mayor, and current City Council member, Tommy Hazouri also spoke to News4Jax.

“We’re going to miss him,” Hazouri said. "He’s always going to be a part of our soul and doing right for Jacksonville. It was a love for this city that was not surpassed by anyone else.

Eric Smith, former City Council president, served with Godbold and was a close friend.

“I think I’ll miss the smile and the positive can-do attitude,” Smith said. “And the willingness to help Jacksonville in any way that he could.”

Former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney was an opponent who turned into a friend. Delaney won a tight contest for mayor in 1995, edging out Godbold and then looping him into major decisions.

“He physically had slowed a little bit, but mentally he was sharp as a tack. And he was energized about this JEA fight. But you just can’t find somebody that loved the city more than Jake,” Delaney said. “He was kind of a relentless and perpetual cheerleader for the town and he wouldn’t listen to anybody criticize the place. It’s a blow. I mean he really helped give an identity to the city. The fraternity of mayors is pretty small. And each of them contributed in their own way. But Jake was a bigger than life personality and still probably the most high-profile mayor we’ve had."

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown beamed when spoke with News4Jax about Godbold.

“Transformational leader, man of the people,” Brown said. "Jake was a salt of the earth. He believed in all of Jacksonville. He spent his last bit of breath fighting for the people of Jacksonville. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Brown met Godbold as a student at Edward Waters College, and years later, enjoyed the support of a Jacksonville icon when he beat the odds to become mayor.

“I had a 1% chance of winning. And Jake said, ‘You got a chance just like anybody else.’ And so for him to help elect the first African American mayor in this great city speaks volumes to him,” Brown said. “And I’m very thankful, I thank God I had a chance at a relationship."

Duval County School Board Chairman Warren Jones was on City Council back when Godbold was mayor.

“He poured his heart and soul into Jacksonville,” Jones said. “He was a visionary and he believed that everyone in Jacksonville on how to roll in seeing the growth of this community. He believed in diversity. He lived it. He didn’t just talk but he lived it in his work and appointments reflect that.”

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams released the following statement on the death of Godbold:


About the Authors:

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.