JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville voters have spoken, and they want the City Council to have a say in who sits on the board of directors for JEA.
The majority of voters approved an amendment to the city’s charter that empowers the City Council to appoint and remove four members of the city-owned utility’s board of directors. The measure also includes residency requirements along with some additional qualifications for one of the council’s appointees.
Previously, the charter held that it was up to the mayor to appoint all seven board members and the council confirmed those appointments.
Under the amendment, four members will be nominated by the council president and three more by the mayor. Those appointments must still be confirmed by the council.
“Shall the Jacksonville charter be amended ... to (1) grant to City Council the executive power to appoint and remove four members of the JEA Board and (2) amend the qualifications of board members?"
(199 / 199)
Board members appointed by the mayor can be removed by the mayor with or without cause, but that move must be done by a two-thirds vote of the council. Likewise, the council can remove its appointees by a two-thirds vote.
The decision comes a day after the board chose Jay Stowe, a former executive for the Tennessee Valley Authority, as JEA’s next chief executive. Stowe takes over for interim CEO Paul McElroy, who was asked to replace Melissa Dykes, a longtime executive who succeeded former CEO Aaron Zahn after his firing.
Zahn was fired in January over his role in a shelved plan to put the utility on the market. The doomed effort, along with a controversial bonus scheme, led to several high-profile departures at JEA, including the turnover of its entire board of directors.
The abandoned plan to find suitors for the utility is under investigation by both the City Council and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.