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‘A true Jacksonville champion’: Local, state leaders pay tribute to Tommy Hazouri

News4Jax reporter Brie Isom spoke with city leaders who were close with former mayor Tommy Hazouri.
News4Jax reporter Brie Isom spoke with city leaders who were close with former mayor Tommy Hazouri.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City and state leaders paid tribute to the life of Tommy Haziouri following his death on Saturday at the age of 76.

“Our city mourns the loss of a true Jacksonville champion,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted. “Tommy, I will always value your friendship, leadership, and passion for our community. You will be dearly missed. Godspeed, my friend. My deepest sympathy and prayers are with your family.”

Fellow councilman Rory Diamond also paid his respects on Twitter.

“RIP, Tommy Hazouri. Praying for you and your family. What a life,” Diamond wrote.

Sam Newby creditsed his city council presidency to Hazouri. Newby said he taught him everything he knows, adding he doesn’t know of anyone else who has done as much for Jacksonville.

“Tommy was one of Jacksonville’s greatest citizens,” Newby said.

“Our city mourns the loss of a true Jacksonville champion,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted. “Tommy, I will always value your friendship, leadership, and passion for our community. You will be dearly missed. Godspeed, my friend. My deepest sympathy and prayers are with your family.”
“Our city mourns the loss of a true Jacksonville champion,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted. “Tommy, I will always value your friendship, leadership, and passion for our community. You will be dearly missed. Godspeed, my friend. My deepest sympathy and prayers are with your family.”

Hazouri served on the Duval County School Board for eight years.

Vicki Drake, a former school board member, said he always did the best he could for Jacksonville.

“When he was on the board he took the job as serious as he did mayor,” Drake said.

Betty Burney, who served on the Duval County School Board with Hazouri for eight years, has fond memories of him.

“I was his school board wife and he was my school board husband,” Burney said. “A lot of our talk was the city of Jacksonville, and just what we wanted to see for this city.”

John Peyton, former mayor of Jacksonville said, he doesn’t think we’ll ever see as good of a public servant again.

“He’ll be missed. It’s hard to imagine our political landscape without Tommy,” Peyton said.

Peyton said he was passionate about this community.

“Tommy was easy to be around, just a kindred spirit, great source of curiosity and human instinct,” Peyton said.

Former mayor John Delaney said he remembers running against Hazouri for mayor in 1995. They became friends.

“I backed him and everything he’s wanting to do, and we’ve socialized together go out with our wives, it was just a quirk opposite parties in a race,” Delaney said. “Normally, you get bad blood in that kind of scenario when the opposite happened with us.”

“Loved people very, very loyal,” Delaney said. “He was sort of a populist as a politician, but he also was not afraid to buck popular opinion, and make enemies.”

The leader of the Duval County Democratic Party issued a statement, praising his class and integrity.

“One of our city’s greatest leaders and proudest Democrats, City Councilman and former Mayor Tommy Hazouri, has passed today,” Chairman Daniel Henry said. “Words cannot express the deepest gratitude and honor we have for him. Tommy exuded class, integrity, dignity, a fighter spirit, and a love for our city. Duval Dems and the residents of Jacksonville are forever grateful for his dedicated service to our community. Our deepest sympathy and prayers are with his family. Rest in Power.”

MORE: Fighter, mentor, friend: Tommy Hazouri dies at 76 | Leaders discuss Hazouri’s political legacy | Tom Wills: Hazouri was a man of the people

Former Florida governor and current U.S. representative also paid tribute to Hazouri.

“Tommy Hazouri was a friend, a leader and a gentleman. He was committed to his community, his family, and public service. I’ll miss him greatly but he’s in a better place. God bless you buddy,” Crist wrote on Twitter.

“The City of Jacksonville has lost a tremendous force for good in our community,” former Jacksonville sheriff and U.S. representative John Rutherford tweeted. “Mayor Tommy Hazouri committed himself to making Jacksonville a great place to work, play, and raise a family. He was a personal friend and longtime supporter of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.”

Chris Hand, former chief of staff for former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, said the city owes Hazouri a debt of gratitude.

“His legacy is massive. It includes cleaner air, the removal of tolls on bridges, stronger public schools, a fully inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance and needed neighborhood investments,” Hand tweeted.


About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.