JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Saturday, Jacksonville will have a new mayor.
That is when Mayor-Elect Donna Deegan will be sworn into office.
On Tuesday, Deegan spoke with News4JAX about what is ahead, from stadium negotiations to appointments and a new openness at City Hall.
Deegan said she made time to talk with the media on Tuesday because that is part of her deal with voters in Jacksonville, making herself available and open government.
“I’m really ready to get in and get going. You know, the transition process, as everybody knows, is just drinking from a firehose, you are trying to put together a team, you’re trying to put together a big celebration, it’s a lot but I think it’s gone very well,” Deegan said.
Deegan has named her executive team. They will be moving in next week as well but not everyone from Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration is moving out.
“It was never my intention to come in and just wholesale make changes,” Deegan said. “You want to bring in your core team on the fourth floor that you want around you that are going to help you make decisions and leave certain things. But we want to be very deliberative about the rest of it.”
The nearly $1.7 billion budget to run the city will be Deegan’s first goal. One thing many will be watching is what will happen with the stadium and the proposed renovations.
Deegan has decided to break that down into three areas:
- A financial team made up of her top staff
- A team of city lawyers to look over the deal
- Outside negotiators that know how to deal with the NFL
“So it’ll be three teams working in concert, hopefully, by the end of July, beginning of August, to start that negotiating process,” Deegan said.
For someone who has not held political office, running Jacksonville may seem like an overwhelming task but Deegan related a story about how she learned to surf from a woman who knew her stuff.
“She was one of the original Sisters of the Sea people. And I remember the first day that I was out for surf lessons and this big wave came and she and I duck-dived under the wave. She said to me, ‘Look when you see a big wave from now on never say oh no!, say ‘oh yeah!’” Deegan said.
And that wave will hit at the auditorium Saturday when she is sworn in as mayor.