JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor-elect Donna Deegan added some well-known Jacksonville names to her executive staff Wednesday when she announced the team that will join her in City Hall when she takes office next month.
“This exciting team of leaders from across the political spectrum represents the culture of collaboration that we intend to create here at City Hall,” Deegan said. “They have spent their careers solving problems, thinking outside the box, and engaging the public. I can’t wait to work with them to bring positive change to Jacksonville.”
Among the leaders are former News4JAX crime and safety analyst Lakesha Burton, WJCT radio host Melissa Ross and former Republican mayoral candidate Anna Brosche.
As part of the mayoral transition process, Mayor-Elect @DonnaDeegan announced the members of her executive team during a news conference at City Hall this morning. Congratulations and welcome - We are looking forward to your leadership, vision, and commitment to our citizens! pic.twitter.com/01VLMimxqW— City of Jacksonville (@CityofJax) June 14, 2023
Here’s the full list of the executive team:
- Erica Connor will serve as Executive Assistant. She is a former practicing attorney, law school counselor and legal recruiter, with experience managing local and state political campaigns.
- Pat McCollough will serve as Chief of Staff. She is a Transition Advisor and managed Mayor-Elect Deegan’s campaign. Pat is a retired U.S. Marine Sergeant Major. She has also led regional, state and national public health, political, organizing, and advocacy campaigns.
- Karen Bowling will serve as Chief Administrative Officer. She is Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of North Florida. Karen previously served as the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Jacksonville, CEO of an urgent care clinic network, and as a healthcare executive.
- Phil Perry will serve as Chief Communications Officer. He is a Transition Advisor and led communications for Mayor-Elect Deegan’s campaign. Phil has provided strategic communications counsel to national nonprofits, Fortune 500 companies, and political campaigns at all levels.
- Melissa Ross will serve as Director of Strategic Initiatives & Liaison to the Press. She is the host of “First Coast Connect” and co-host of “The Florida Roundup.” Beyond her time as an award-winning radio host, she has been a television anchor, reporter, and executive producer.
- Lakesha Burton will serve as Chief of Public Safety. She is the Crime & Safety analyst for WJXT4. Previously, she was a candidate for Sheriff and served for 24 years in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office rising to the rank of Assistant Chief.
- Dr. Sunil Joshi will serve as Chief Health Officer. He is an allergist and immunologist who has previously served as President of the Duval County Medical Society and several more local and state medical associations.
- Dr. Parvez Ahmed will serve as Director of Diversity & Inclusion. He is a Professor of Finance at the University of North Florida and two-term member of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. Parvez is also a member of the Museum of Science & History board.
- Anna Brosche will serve as Chief Financial Officer. She is the Relationship Partner at BDO Alliance. Before that, she managed a 40-person local CPA firm. She previously served as Jacksonville City Council President and was a candidate for mayor.
- Mike Weinstein will serve as Interim Chief Financial Officer until October 2023. He is the CEO of Kids Hope Alliance. He has previously served as the City of Jacksonville’s Chief Financial Officer for multiple mayoral administrations and also as a State Representative.
- Ed Randolph will serve as Director of Economic Development. Currently, he is the Director of Economic Development for JEA and previously served as the City of Jacksonville’s Director of Business Development.
Former City of Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel will serve as Chair of the Qualification Review Committee as it evaluates new general counsel candidates. Deegan has appointed Bob Rhodes to serve as Interim General Counsel effective July 1. Bob has served as an executive and general counsel for multiple companies. He has also advised the State of Florida on growth management, planning and property rights. On the local level, he has chaired numerous boards focused on downtown and economic development.
Deegan acknowledged that her team is filled with those who have been vocal in the community in their work.
“Nobody gets into this to be a shrinking violet. You get into this to make a difference. And so I’m thrilled to have people on my team that are used to speaking out and are really productive members of this community,” Deegan said. “And I think the same is true for our city council. So I think we’re going to work well together. I’m excited about it.”
One of those outspoken team members is Brosche, who made her voice heard during her term as City Council president.
“You know, this is her vision. This is her vision and what she wants to see for the city, and I’m here as a faithful servant to make sure that that happens,” Brosche said of joining Deegan’s administration.
Deegan said one of her goals is for the team to be open and transparent with the public and the media.
“I think I can do that,” Deegan said.
Deegan needs to have personnel in place on Day One, so she can get right to work, and their first order of business will be the budget.
She’s made it clear one of her priorities is the city’s infrastructure.
“Without having to give away the farm, I think infrastructure is a big piece of it,” Deegan said. “Those are probably gonna be the things in the budget that I’m gonna be looking to.”
Deegan must present the budget to the City Council next month, so members can vote on it in September. The city could spend close to $1.7 billion in tax dollars on city services.
Sheriff T.K. Waters is asking for $600 million for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, about $35 million more than last year. He also wants to hire an additional 80 officers.
The $1.7 billion is also expected to include $440 million for Jacksonville Fire Rescue, which will include money to pay for 45 firefighters.
On top of that, Deegan will also need to address the Jaguars’ plans to renovate the stadium and potentially build out Lot J.
If both plans move forward, the price tag could hit $2 billion, and the Jags want taxpayers to help foot the bill.
Deegan has already said she plans to bring in an outside attorney to determine what options are best for taxpayers, which would cost $2 million.
Deegan will be sworn in at 11:30 a.m. July 1 at the Jacoby Symphony Hall in the Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts on Water Street. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Click here to reserve your spot.