Three of the candidates running to be the next mayor of Jacksonville met Tuesday evening for a town hall that was hosted by the Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida — a non-partisan organization. WJCT’s Melissa Ross, host of the radio talk show First Coast Connect, moderated.
Top candidates from the two major parties were invited. The town hall featured Democratic candidates Donna Deegan and Audrey Gibson, as well as Republican candidate LeAnna Cumber. Candidates Daniel Davis, Al Ferraro and Frank Keasler, each Republicans, did not attend. Ferraro was unable to make it to the event, while Davis did not respond. It was unclear why Keasler did not attend.
Omega Allen, a No Party Affiliated candidate, was present in the audience. Notably, Brian Griffin, and Independent, is a write-in candidate.
During the town hall, the attending candidates were asked about the remaining Confederate monuments in Duval County. These were the candidates responses in the order they replied.
“I do not believe that we can erase or ignore history, and I think we need to talk about it. I am not in favor of trying to wipe it out,” Cumber told the audience. “I think it gives us an opportunity to contextualize and discuss our history, which I think is really critical because otherwise you are doomed to repeat it.”
“It is bad for the community, it is bad for business,” Deegan said. “There is no business that wants to move to a city that is still fighting the Civil War. And there’s absolutely no excuse at this point to not take those monuments down. I am perfectly willing to put them in a museum and put labels on them for exactly what they are: symbols of hate. Symbols of a time that we should be, frankly, ashamed of.”
“There should be no symbol of oppression, degradation or sexism in public spaces in Jacksonville,” Gibson said. “That’s where I stand on that, and I believe that those things, objects in public spaces should be removed because we are all citizens of Jacksonville and we don’t deserve to feel any type of way other than ourselves, very proud, every day of our life. So in public spaces, no.”
Eight candidates are running in the election for mayor of Jacksonville. Seven of the candidates (not including Griffin) will join News4JAX anchor Kent Justice for a live debate March 8 on News4JAX+ and The Local Station.
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