Jacksonville Mayors Race for 2011
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The 2011 Mayor’s race is starting to heat up in Jacksonville. Rumors are flying and at least one candidate has already jumped in the race—nearly two years early. With Tallahassee being upended by politicians pursuing higher office, the excitement surrounding change seems to have spread to the River City. And, for good reason—there are some rather exciting candidates whose names are currently drawing some buzz.

The 2011 race could see a few first-time candidates in the mix. Among the more famous of this group of first-timers—Tony Boselli, the former Jaguar. Since retiring from the Jacksonville Jaguars several years ago, Boselli has immersed himself in community development. Through his non-profit foundation, The Boselli Foundation, Boselli has worked to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged youth, working to provide after-school programs and re-open community centers. He had a bumpy introduction to politics when he encountered opposition to one of his community centers, but he seems to have weathered the storm.

Jim Bailey, Daily Record Publisher, is also said to be considering the race. Bailey has long been a player in efforts to revitalize downtown Jacksonville, recently leading the charge for “Make A Scene Downtown.” Bailey’s connections to the legal community and his tireless work on behalf of downtown would make him a formidable (and exciting) choice.

Vestcor Chairman John Rood is another rumored candidate with downtown connections. Rood would certainly not be a newcomer to the political scene, particularly in light of the hundreds of thousands of dollars he has raised on behalf of the Republican Party and the Bush Family over the years, but this would be his first run for office.

Another possible first-time candidate? City of Jacksonville General Counsel Rick Mullaney. Mullaney has close ties to previous Mayor (and current UNF President) John Delaney, and Delaney had even hinted at a possible endorsement of Mullaney in 2003. Mullaney has certainly faced controversy in the years he has served as General Counsel, but he’s not to be quickly dismissed. While not well known to the general public, he is considered one of the most powerful men in City government—as such, he’d make an intriguing candidate.

There are a number of elected officials who are also rumored to be considering bids for the Mayor’s Office. City Councilwoman Glorious Johnson (D) has been one of the more outspoken Jacksonville politicians over the six years. She’s fought for accountability and always blazed her own trail. She’d bring an indomitable personality to the Mayor’s race.

City Councilman Kevin Hyde (R) is also in the mix. An attorney in the Jacksonville office of Foley & Lardner, Hyde has established himself as a thoughtful, reasoned member of the Council over the last six years. Among Hyde’s latest initiatives has been legislation aimed at easing the spate of foreclosures plaguing the Jacksonville area.

Ronnie Fussell is an At-Large City Councilman whose name has often been bandied about. Fussell gained significant name recognition and support as the chief opponent of the Mayor’s plan to award the Waste Management contract without putting it out to bid.

City Councilman Daniel Davis (R) is one of the younger candidates being mentioned. The current Executive Director of the Northeast Florida Builder’s Association, Davis has deep ties to the development community. He is well respected on the Council and was one of the first to embrace public access to Council Member e-mails, something both Hyde, Fussell and Johnson have also done.

Another local politician rumored to be considering a run? State Rep. Mike Weinstein (R). While Weinstein can point to a rather impressive record when it comes to revitalization issues (he was the original chair of the Super Bowl Committee), it’s hard to imagine his candidacy gaining much traction. After all, he did quietly bow out of the 2007 race, leaving a myriad of supporters feeling rather abandoned. (After which he mounted a failed attempt to become the Speaker of the Florida House in 2014).

Of course, you can never count Duval County Tax Collector Mike Hogan and Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland out. Both are former City Council members who have previously expressed an interest in running for Mayor. Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford has also been mentioned as a candidate, but what platform he would run on remains unclear. While he remains relatively popular, Jacksonville seems years away from making any headway on its murder problem.

At this point, let’s hope they all run. Because, after all, isn’t that what democracy is all about—a plethora of candidates that leaves voters with real choices? A former football player working to better his community, hard-working public servants, successful businessmen who have worked to improve the City’s core…

2011 is looking to be an exciting year.

Abel Harding also writes about politics and the superiority of Florida
Gator Football at http://www.JaxPoliticsOnline.com.

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