JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kent Justice along with journalists from First Coast News, WJCT and the Florida Times-Union asked questions to one of the two candidates running for mayor, Democrat Donna Deegan. Both candidates, Deegan and Republican Daniel Davis were invited months ago. Deegan accepted, but Davis declined.
[Watch the entire hour-long forum by clicking the video player above]
Deegan was questioned on a number of topics, but her opponent wasn’t there. He held his own event with local parents.
“I just believe that we’re stuck. We’re stuck in a rut and we have been here for a really long time,” Deegan said to open the forum. “And one of the reasons that I’m running for mayor is because I think it’s really time that we take down the wall between our citizens in our city government, there’s been a wall there for quite a long time. We’ve made it very difficult to participate in our city government, for our citizens, and frankly, to make this city a city that does not skew toward just a handful of folks but that brings everybody in and gives everybody an opportunity for the same quality of life.”
During the forum, Deegan addressed public safety, which has been a key issue during the campaign.
“Let me say that despite what you may have seen in a mailer near you or on a commercial I want to fully fund our police department. I think the very first thing you have to do operationally is fund public safety. It’s incredibly important, police and fire. So I will certainly do that. I look forward to working with our police department. I’ve done that my entire life both when I was anchoring the news and through the foundation. I’ve always had a fantastic relationship with our police department.”
With early voting at about 8%, there are still many minds that need to be made up with this election. Voters are still hoping to learn more from the candidates before they head to the polls.
“The more I can learn about both candidates with their opinions on some of the hot issues, the better informed I will be as a voter,” voter Stephen Mostella said. “But right now, I just have to take what I have, what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been hearing and pretty much make my decision based off that.”
Rick Mullaney of JU’s Public Policy Institute was behind this forum and said the situation is very unique.
“Well, first of all, it’s a historic collaboration of the media,” Mullaney said. “Channel 4, First Coast News, WJCT and the Florida Times-Union are all participating in this mayoral forum. Second, this is what’s really important, we all believe that this is an important conversation for the people of Jacksonville and that the election is a couple weeks away. And by the way, the stakes are very, very high for the future. We certainly wish Daniel Davis was participating, and are very pleased to have Donna Deegan’s participation. And she’ll be addressing a broad range of issues.”
Davis hosted his own event Wednesday which he calls a conversation with Jacksonville parents. News4JAX caught up with him Wednesday as he was campaigning on the Southside and asked him why he was not attending the forum.
“We had a lot of forums and there’s almost a forum every night,” Davis said. “And I think it’s more important to get out there and talk to the real voters about what’s happening in their lives day to day. And so, it’s something we’ve planned on the calendar and we’re looking forward to talking to the parents tonight.”
News4JAX reminded Davis that he was invited a long time ago and that there is a huge audience for the event with three different stations as well as the Times-Union involved.
“We have, we’ve been on several debates, several forums. We were in a forum yesterday at Fleet Landing,” Davis replied.
The election is in 13 days, May 16. Early voting ends May 14.