Jacksonville mayoral candidates on the issues

Jacksonville mayoral candidates on the problems

The Jacksonville Day by day File invited the eight Jacksonville mayor candidates operating within the March 21 election for his or her positions on tax, enterprise and financial points dealing with town. Candidates had been supplied the checklist of questions through e-mail and requested to reply every in 60 phrases or much less. Mayoral candidate and JAX Chamber President and CEO Daniel Davis and his marketing campaign staff didn’t reply to the invitation or to a number of follow-up makes an attempt through e-mail, cellphone and textual content messages to answer the questions.

TIAA Financial institution Subject

Stadium Renovations

The present administration has begun planning stadium renovations with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Latest NFL stadiums have price greater than $1 billion. As mayor, what shall be your place on the stadium renovation, metropolis funding and any potential contributions by the Jaguars?

Omega Allen: Most plans and agreements initiated by the present administration should be reviewed and evaluated for efficacy, effectivity, and profitability for the individuals of Jacksonville. As Mayor, I’ll evaluation the proposals and disseminate the findings to the individuals. Then, I’ll let the information, ROI, and knowledgeable residents dictate our transfer and diploma of dedication as a group.

LeAnna Cumber: The Jaguars group must decide to staying in Jacksonville for the long run. I’ll guarantee we get one of the best deal for taxpayers by having the perfect negotiators and attorneys, who’re skilled in negotiating with NFL groups. The Jaguars will clearly additionally have to be a serious monetary contributor to any stadium renovations.

Donna Deegan: The Jaguars have been a unifying power in our can-do metropolis, bringing collectively individuals of numerous backgrounds. I hope to safe a long-term lease for the stadium beneath metropolis management, negotiating with a cautious eye on taxpayer funds. Whereas supporting the staff’s request for a renovated stadium, I’ll prioritize worthwhile returns on funding and handle extra urgent group wants.

Al Ferraro: I’m open to funding in our stadium however I would like extra details about what that will entail and what the return on that funding could be. My first obligation is to the taxpayers, not the Jaguars. I can not justify spending a single greenback of taxpayer cash with out assurance that it’s going to produce a greater life for our present residents.

Audrey Gibson: Any funding of metropolis funds should embody brief time period and long-term return on funding and a long-term contract for the staff to stay in Jacksonville properly past 2029. This might additionally embody no diminishment in “house” video games being performed domestically. Group funding is necessary as properly. We’ve got taxpayers who can’t even afford to go to a recreation. 

Brian Griffin: We’ve got a contemporary stadium. There isn’t a motive to interchange every thing, spend to spend. I assist fixing & changing issues that want fixing. Frequent sense, fiscal conservatism. If the staff price $770 million, contemplating $1 billion, makes me suppose town (residents) ought to have extra possession. What different personal enterprise will get these advantages?

Frank Keasler: As Mayor, I’ll suggest we alter the best way we “hand out the individuals’s cash.” No incentive shall be granted absent disclosure of the applicant’s marketing strategy and possession of the venture. Such “deal due diligence” will present our “piece of the pie” is the important thing capital to get the “numbers” to work.


Enterprise Incentives

The town has spent hundreds of thousands on incentives for companies to relocate or develop in Jacksonville. What could be your coverage on incentives?

Allen: Incentives should have tips, stipulations, and clawbacks that demand reimbursement if the phrases of the motivation are usually not met. The incentives should be tied to employment creation. Moreover, the motivation must also assist to rectify points in Jacksonville by way of a 5% contribution to specified initiatives i.e., homeless resolution. As Chair of the NW Jax Belief Fund, I discovered clawbacks efficient.

Cumber: The motivation course of wants to alter so it achieves its meant end result however doesn’t lead to windfalls to builders who don’t in the end full tasks or are setting up tasks which might be already financially viable. If we provide incentives, it’s crucial that we shield taxpayers, one thing we’ve got not finished during the last eight years.

Deegan: I imagine we’re higher served by creating the sort of metropolis companies want to relocate or develop into. In a number of research over the previous decade, companies are wanting way more for high quality of life points, like public security, infrastructure, schooling, housing and delight of life. Being one of the best metropolis within the southeast could be one of the best incentive of all.

Ferraro: We’ve grow to be too prepared to switch cash from taxpayers to entities who want to reap the benefits of the sources our metropolis has to supply. My administration will spur progress with out at all times using these company handouts. There isn’t a better incentive than making a protected and vibrant metropolis. We’ll give attention to our roads and our infrastructure and pay our first responders.

Gibson: As Mayor I’ll lean on my expertise of seeing failed efficiency. Incentive insurance policies ought to be reviewed for relativity to anticipated end result, embody claw-back provisions for non-performance. Corporations deciding on their very own to relocate with out incentives don’t want a suggestion. Job creation should embody 40-50% present Jax resident hires, evaluation of workforce compatibility, firm coaching alternatives to make sure sustainability.

Griffin: In some circumstances, relying on the way it advantages town, I’m for incentives. My platform is meant to make resident’s lives higher, which may also make Jacksonville fascinating to new enterprise, with out having to incentivize. Crime, storm resilience/readiness, public faculties, inexpensive housing & visitors congestion. Confer with my platform for actual options.

Keasler: Please see our reply to (stadium renovations) above as the identical funding philosophy and standards as described in how we are going to strategy an funding in TIAA Financial institution Subject, will apply to any and  all investments we make as a metropolis incentivizing financial, enterprise and actual property improvement. 

Downtown Jacksonville

Downtown Growth

Downtown improvement, together with monetary incentives, has been a precedence for previous administrations. What is going to your technique be for Downtown and will town proceed these incentive insurance policies?

Allen: A viable downtown requires 4 components: Residential, Retail, Leisure, and Dependable Transportation. I’ll determine and pursue retailers, and distributors that may set up a presence and provide numerous buying, leisure, residential, and transportation experiences for the residents of Jacksonville paying homage to (and higher than) the bustling downtown I knew in my youth.

Cumber: We’ll recruit and retain companies by being one of the best faculty alternative and parental empowerment metropolis within the state, encouraging commerce faculties and addressing our homeless inhabitants. We’ll make downtown the simplest place to develop companies moderately than the toughest. Monetary incentives ought to be a final resort and guarantee a excessive return for taxpayers not simply an equal return.

Deegan: To stimulate progress within the downtown space, the Deegan administration will prioritize infill improvement and the success of small companies. We’ll enhance the wi-fi and LiFi infrastructure to maintain tempo with the brand new financial system and assist the riverfront parks program. Moreover, we are going to work towards eradicating any pointless obstacles that discourage the general public from returning to the downtown space.

Ferraro: I’ll work to make our downtown safer and handle the homelessness epidemic which has reached disaster ranges. A safer downtown will spur a rising downtown. Whereas I’ll proceed to look after our downtown, we is not going to achieve this on the expense of the remainder of our group. We have to give attention to all of our metropolis, not simply our downtown.

Gibson: As a Riverfront 2025 attendee, I might modernize the James Weldon Johnson Park to make it a focus for “center” Downtown. I’ll add a hop-on-hop-off trolley, develop railways, add cultural venues together with high-end buying. Incentives shouldn’t be automated; ought to be examined by ROI; profit the area people; and, appropriate with an general downtown plan, together with sustainability.

Griffin: I would depart the incentives as they’re for now. With all of the deliberate improvement, I believe we must always see how the brand new building impacts downtown, earlier than including an excessive amount of extra. Whereas these tasks get constructed, we are able to give attention to the remainder of town.

Keasler: A Revitalization Plan downtown from the Fuller Warren to the Matthews Bridge, all the best way north between Pearl and MLK and down Most important Avenue to the Trout River is required. Earlier than EOY a Part 1 of Revitalization Going North shall be introduced. Time we appeared to the place the ”hardscape screams for all times” as an alternative of bulldozing “greenscape vigorous.”

Dwelling building

Inexpensive Housing

Many enterprise leaders have raised the difficulty of a scarcity of inexpensive housing in Jacksonville. What do you are feeling town ought to do to fulfill the housing wants of a rising inhabitants?

Allen: Forging relationships between the rental amenities representatives,  residents, native builders, and my administration to work out an  EQUITABLE resolution is first. No “ONE” entity has all the solutions however  collectively we are able to and MUST come to a workable and inexpensive resolution.  There are lots of choices accessible however WE want to contemplate each industrial  and residential gamers within the course of.

Cumber: We should make structural modifications to zoning ordinances, corresponding to reforming antiquated parking necessities, streamline allowing to scale back housing prices and to encourage city core infill.  There’s an affordability drawback – from housing to primary communities. We have to give attention to attracting extra high-wage jobs and enhancing our schooling system so households can afford to lift their youngsters in Jacksonville.

Deegan: To sort out this problem, we should implement greater density zoning in areas with established infrastructure and entry federal help and grants. Streamlining our allowing course of can be essential. These options have been successfully employed in different cities. My administration will repurpose city-owned properties, combine workforce housing, replace zoning laws, encourage native possession, and safe funding for inexpensive housing applications.

Ferraro: We are able to’t, on one hand, elevate the millage fee which provides to the price of proudly owning a house whereas then complaining about the price of a house. Millage charges are a burden on homeownership. These charges are handed right down to renters as properly. My administration would work to maintain all our taxes low in order that residents can afford their houses.

Gibson: Infill in older neighborhoods might alleviate inexpensive housing points, reestablishing communities, creating financial improvement. Stock of deserted property figuring out possession; risk of town buying properties to public sale a number of properties for builder buy. Tax reduction with parameters on rental prices. With out intervention traders will proceed to purchase up vacant properties with no management measures.

Griffin: I might invite prefab house builders, across the nation, to expos. Let residents see availability, presumably make house possession simpler. We should always have some developer incentives, however we must always require all new improvement to incorporate a particular % of inexpensive housing. There’s extra low paying jobs than excessive paying jobs, until we do away with quick meals & comfort shops.

Keasler: Our M.A.R.s (Making Inexpensive Residences) Program represents a novel “JV” idea with personal improvement. Below MARs program we create “Life Ahead Residences.” Any additional authorities help program is not going to perform to create generational dependency on public help. The bottom line is MARs is a spot you go to you need to return to  Earth (actuality) inside 5 years.


Homeless inhabitants

As Downtown redevelops, the difficulty of town’s homeless inhabitants there has elevated. What is going to your technique be for offering and funding homelessness companies together with offering a optimistic financial and enterprise local weather?

Allen: My technique is to make the most of decommissioned faculties close to downtown to ascertain as transitional housing with a everlasting really feel, supplying psychological well being counseling and re employment help. Make use of residents to handle sure features of the amenities. Make the most of incentive rebates to fund sustainable everlasting housing.

Cumber: Addressing homelessness begins with enforcement of present legal guidelines and figuring out the systematic the reason why individuals are homeless. We should always work to deal with the basis explanation for homelessness moderately than offering bandaids. Extra funding is just not at all times the answer. Offering workforce coaching is much more necessary.

Deegan: Homelessness is a posh problem that requires long-term options and funding. Though personal funding is usually used to assist companies for the homeless, the Metropolis does allocate funds for applications that goal to finish homelessness. This gives a possibility for Jacksonville to affect and direct funding in the direction of profitable initiatives, such because the Capability Housing venture that addresses veteran homelessness.

Ferraro: It’s neither sort nor humane to permit our residents to dwell in such poor situations. We’ve got a duty to deal with the problems which might be resulting in the mass homelessness disaster. We have to empower psychological well being therapies amenities to succeed in out to those who are prepared to get that assist.

Gibson: Homelessness is a multi-faceted problem together with the necessity for a continuum of care notably from a psychological well being perspective in addition to workforce improvement/alternatives. Since many of the metropolis’s homeless companies are downtown, it’s tough to displace the homeless away from their sources. As mayor, I might have a look at repurposing some buildings as transitional housing.

Griffin: We have to decide who’s homeless by alternative or arduous occasions. Anyone preventing to get again on their toes & again to work ought to get a short lived, protected place to name house. I want to attempt a tiny house neighborhood, to see if it might have a optimistic impact. A complete neighborhood might match on an everyday lot.

Keasler: Below our Campus for Sustained Independence (CSI) idea, we create Males’s (and  Ladies’s) Residences for Restoration situated on the CSI property. If we’re going to sort out homelessness, leaving them on the streets is working within the improper course. 

Highway work


The town has billions in long-standing infrastructure wants which might be but to be funded. What do you are feeling is town’s biggest infrastructure want and the way ought to town pay for it and different tasks?

Allen: There are lots of infrastructure wants; essentially the most delinquent problem is the failing septic tanks  in North Jacksonville. First, use the income generated within the space as funding for space  tasks. In conjunction, I’ll determine and draw down all state and federal funds  earmarked for infrastructure accessible to us. Most significantly, I’ll use the funds for the  meant objective.

Cumber: Jacksonville must put money into resilience tasks, pedestrian amenities, avenue lights, repairing our roads, selecting up trash on our streets, and creating protected bike lanes. That’s my focus. We have to handle primary infrastructure wants and finish the Skyway to Nowhere to redirect funds to tasks that improve our high quality of life.

Deegan: We should handle Jacksonville’s deteriorating infrastructure, notably in uncared for neighborhoods, which has decayed for the previous 50 years. I’ll work to satisfy our promise to reinvest in these areas with avenue lights, sidewalks, and septic tank removing. We additionally have to sort out the inexpensive housing disaster. My administration will pull down accessible federal and state grants to fund these tasks.

Ferraro: Our first infrastructure precedence ought to be so as to add resilience to our roads and bridges. There isn’t a excuse for the potholes and poorly maintained standing they’re in. Moreover, we’ve got a number of roadways which were in “to be constructed” standing for much too lengthy.

Gibson: As Mayor, I’ll set up a sturdy grants part to make sure draw down of federal funds to deal with drainage wants, as federal infrastructure legislation consists of funding for cities, together with underserved/older communities. We can not tax and spend our means out of a historical past of doing little to maneuver the needle on main infrastructure fixes.

Griffin: Storm resilience & readiness. It impacts every thing else. We should always see what we are able to get by way of the federal infrastructure invoice & FEMA Pre-Catastrophe Mitigation grants. Begin with the most important issues & go up the checklist. I might audit every thing I can, to seek out waste & then ask our residents if we are able to use that cash.

Keasler: Extra asphalt, concrete and visitors alerts is just not the reply. Driving into the twenty first Century beneath our Drive Proper Program, is! With CLEAR Audit sources we are going to start instantly to remediate the septic tanks, engineer a regional storm water seize system and provides the individuals on Moncrief, Soutel and Cleveland, a hope many years overdue.



The town has used fuel and gross sales tax will increase, charges and debt to pay for tasks and different finances obligations as an alternative of accelerating property tax. As mayor, what is going to your technique be on taxation and charges to create income for growing bills or wanted tasks?

Allen: Fuel and gross sales tax improve is just not EQUITABLE. Merchandise and fuel costs are systematically greater is low-income areas. Subsequently, these with biggest wants contribute extra. By means of re-budgeting, I’ll assess the effectivity of our finances, reallocate unused and ineffectively used {dollars} to deal with the wants. I’ll use tax income the place it’s generated to deal with the problems in that space.

Cumber: My mayoral administration will reprioritize the finances to get rid of tasks that solely profit donors and particular pursuits. We’ll then decide the wants of town whereas recruiting firms to develop our tax base. We are able to dwell inside our means if we cease the wasteful spending just like the $500 million Skyway to Nowhere.

Deegan: We don’t have to tax residents greater than we at the moment are. I’ll discover each doable avenue earlier than growing the tax burden. Luckily, the Federal Authorities is closely investing within the precise tasks that may probably be the costliest throughout the subsequent 8 years. I anticipate with the ability to fund most of the most important tasks with federal assist.

Ferraro: I don’t imagine there’s a want for a single new tax. We’ve got loads of cash in our coffers to are likely to our core features like infrastructure and security. With out tax raises, we are going to see our revenues improve as a result of our metropolis is rising. We have to do a greater job of prioritizing our spending, not elevate taxes.

Gibson: First, fuel costs differ in several areas of Jacksonville, and in consequence some within the metropolis pay extra into the pot. Secondly, continued electrical automobile progress, will cut back tax income. As mayor, I’ll give attention to growing tourism to create extra tax income.

Griffin: I want to see property taxes cease as soon as a home is totally paid for. This might assist many older residents, with restricted or fastened incomes. If cigarettes may be taxed the best way they’re, as a result of they’re unhealthy for you, the alternatives are limitless. Who would argue towards a nickel on each bottle of liquor, to pay for streetlights?

Keasler: There shall be no new taxes beneath the Keasler Administration. PERIOD. Ours is a fleecing of the general public treasury, not a difficulty of being constrained to a widow’s mite! If we discover 5% (solely  5 %) waste, antiquation, obsolescence, redundancy and fraud in our city-wide operations, that’s 350MM {Dollars}! It’s 87.5MM out of our +/-1.75BB Greenback discretionary finances.


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