JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We just finished the midterm elections, and Jacksonville city elections are already just months away.
Nine candidates for mayor were invited to participate in a forum at the Rotary Club of Jacksonville Monday, seven showed up. Darcy Richardson said he would be there, but wasn’t. Daniel Davis was not there, saying he had family commitments.
Republican candidate LeAnna Cumber addressed Davis’ absence directly. “I’m here because I think my job as a public servant is showing up, so let’s be honest and talk about who’s not here today, Daniel Davis. And I don’t know about you but I’m tired of career politicians saying you have to wait in line and wait for your turn.” Cumber continues, “I didn’t get where I am waiting my turn and I will tell you that there is no mom out there, when she is fighting for her kids, who is going to wait in line. Running for mayor is not a coronation. Showing up is critical. I work hard and I get results. I fought against doubling the gas tax that Daniel Davis funded and supported and the other taxes that had been passed in the city in the last seven years. He thinks he’s already won. That’s why Daniel is not here, because he thinks it’s owed to him. I disagree.”
Attorney Hank Coxe moderated the event. Candidates were asked about crime, education and downtown growth.
Democrat Donna Deegan said, “61% of the people in the city in a recent poll said we are in the wrong track and we need a new direction. I am ready to bring change for good to the city. I have been showing up for this city doing the work, my entire life. I have been a voice for the voiceless--listen, I love our big corporations as much as everybody else, but they don’t need a voice. They got a bull horn. We need a voice for our neighborhoods. We need a voice for the people who are constantly left behind in the city.”
Candidate Omega Allen has run for mayor before. Allen is running as a no party affiliation candidate and admits she may not be well known, but says she is ready to serve.
“I love the city and its people. I will encourage and support community policing. I will support the school board and the superintendent. My administration will function under honesty, accountability, and transparency.” Allen continued, “I am a contractor by trade I understand the concerns of the working class I am working class. I’m not trying to turn Jacksonville red or blue. I’m keeping it red, white and blue for all of us. They call me the long shot, but I am the best shot for the citizens of Jacksonville.”
Democrat Audrey Gibson is finishing up her time as a state senator and wants to head up Jacksonville to bring about change, particularly with home ownership.
“My sole focus will be on Jacksonville,” Gibson said. “Not just a select few and we’ve seen how that movie ends. I will be focused on financial forecasting transparency for our budget. Affordable housing. Did you know that only 40% of Jacksonville residents own their own home? We need affordable housing in Jacksonville.”
Democrat Theresa Ann Richardson said Jacksonville needs to get control of crime, and believes the mayor’s office can help with that. “As your new mayor, you will have a new bolder city, not in words but in deed,” Richardson said. “And when I say in deed, we could be another Atlanta, we could do Orlando, why not? It would attract business, that would attract new families and we could get a handle on this crime.”
SPECIAL SECTION: YOUR VOICE MATTERS
Republican Frank Keasler said education is key, not only in schools but on the streets. “Why not an education program that lifts the souls and spirits of our children, and inspires them to learn?” Keasler continued, “Why not a 21st century--four disciplines, bringing mental health into the street, into the violence and mental health that we face? Why not--the only thing that separates us is--we have to look each other in the eye and say, we all have meaning, we all have purpose and let’s come together and build a city that really awakens the nation.”
Current city council member Republican Al Ferraro wants the focus to be on families, and the needs of neighborhoods. “Putting families first is our slogan, and that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. I want to make this city safe. I want to bring core functions back,” Ferraro said. “I want to stop the corruption. When was the last time you voted for someone that you really felt was watching and listening over your tax dollars and your family? That you could reach out to, that you had somebody that was going to protect you and watch over you?” Ferraro then explained, “To watch over our citizens that’s the core function--our streets, our roads, the infrastructure, the ditches--all the things you see that are not getting done with all the tax dollars.”
The city election is Tuesday, March 21, 2023.