Councilman: Build new elections office

Clay Yarborough says new building in LaVilla better than move to existing one

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The fight to move the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office has ramped up.

City Councilman Clay Yarborough is introducing a plan to build a new office for $8 million. That goes against what Mayor Alvin Brown wants to do, which is move the elections office to an existing building.

The proposed new site is in LaVilla on city-owned land.

Yarborough believes the city will save money not paying high rent at the current site in the Gateway Mall and building a functional building for elections.

For more than a year, Channel 4's Jim Piggott has documented why Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland wants to move from Gateway Mall. Holland says the building is not being maintained and has all kinds of problems.

The city is currently studying where the office should move. The mayor's staff says millions could be saved by moving it to the Yates building, the current home of the property appraiser and tax collector offices.

Yarborough says the LaVilla site will be better. He said that while the cost up front will be expensive, it will pay off in the end with the city not having to pay $55,000 a month in rent at the Gateway location.

"We already own the land, so we would not have to spend money on the land," Yarborough said in a phone interview. "One thing that works in our favor is we could take all the money we are paying in rent right at that building in Gateway and put that towards the new building."

Plus, Yarborough says, the current elections office downtown could be sold and that money applied to the new building.

He says the mayor's plan with the Yates building just won't work.

"Not trying to circumvent the administration," Yarborough said. "I know they would prefer us to go to the Yates building, but the Yates building is proving not to be the best fit. That would be like putting a round peg in a square hole."

Holland said in a phone interview he's waiting to see what the mayor's office will present when it is done with its study. But he has indicated before that the Yates building would present some major problems.

Some are questioning Yarborough's interest in the case. Piggott asked him if he plans to run for Supervisor of Elections, and he said he is not considering it at this time.

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