‘Brilliant group of leaders’: Mayor-elect Deegan names bipartisan transition team

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville mayor-elect Donna Deegan on Thursday held her first news conference in City Hall to announce her six-person, bipartisan transition team.

“Our administration will be guided by the principle that every person should have a voice in City Hall and a seat at the table. Our culture will be an inclusive one where we encourage collaboration and bring in leaders from all walks of life who look like Jacksonville,” said Deegan, a Democrat.

The team includes former Jacksonville mayor and Flagler College president John Delaney, a Republican, former sheriff Nat Glover, Brightway Insurance Executive Chairman David Miller, Operation New Hope founder Kevin Gay, Florida Blue market president for the North Florida Region Darnell Smith and former sheriff candidate and retired JSO assistant chief Lakesha Burton. Burton is News4JAX Crime and Safety Analyst.

“They are a brilliant group of leaders who collectively embody our guiding values, the culture we will strive to create, innovators, every one, collaborators, problem solvers. They come from across the political spectrum. They work with relentless optimism to lift our city to bring this beautiful mosaic that we call Jacksonville to its greatest good. They have deep community roots and long-established records of service,” Deegan said.

Deegan said she met with Mayor Lenny Curry on Thursday morning and thanked him publicly for helping to facilitate a smooth transition into office.

Mayor-elect Donna Deegan meets with current Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

“We both have a love for Jacksonville and we want to see our city grow and succeed and I believe that’s going to happen,” Deegan said.

The exact roles of co-chairs weren’t clear Thursday, but Deegan said she would release more details in the coming weeks.

During the news conference, Deegan also addressed the JSO budget and police officers. She said for a city this size compared to the current level of police officers, more officers are needed on the street.

She spoke a day after a “Violence Against Police” news conference hosted by local law enforcement leaders.

There, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said he intends to unveil his plan to bring more officers into his department with the goal of making the city safer.

“We’re going to have a town hall...I think once people see it, they’ll see how well we operate with being understaffed and undermanned. Now imagine what we can do with the proper manpower to move us forward. It’s going to be amazing,” Waters said.

To bring more officers into Jacksonville, that means the sheriff would have to ask for an increase in the budget from Deegan’s administration.

During the recent mayoral race, the sheriff endorsed Republican Daniel Davis for mayor. In the Davis attack ads, Waters appeared and called Deegan a radical who would defund the police and make the streets unsafe for his officers.

So when Deegan was asked about increasing JSO’s budget, she had this to say, “If you look at the data of how many people we have in this city and how many officers we have in this city. We need more police officers. And we’re in the process of doing a deep dive on the budget obviously as you know we got a budget that’s due in a matter of weeks. And we’ll get to all of that.”

Deegan will take office in July.

The town hall Sheriff Waters was talking about will be held on July 19 at Prime F. Osborn Convention Center.

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.

Khalil Maycock joined the News4JAX team in November 2022 after reporting in Des Moines, IA.