The next mayor of Jacksonville will be Democrat Donna Deegan, a candidate who pledged a new era of openness for the city.
Unofficial election results show that Deegan, the charity’s founder and a former TV host, defeated Daniel Davis, the CEO of the Jax Chamber, by a margin of 52% to 48% on Tuesday.
Deegan, who will be the city’s first female mayor, presented herself as an oppositional figure who will clean up what she claims is a widely perceived culture of corruption in local administration and include those who have traditionally been “left behind” in terms of economic development. Infrastructure, public health, and small business are her top objectives.
Septic tanks, drainage, and other infrastructure must be fixed, according to Deegan, who also urged the city to “keep the broken promises that we have been making to our neighborhoods in this city for 55 years.”
She concurred with Republican Davis that the city’s crime rate is “shameful,” but she stated that she wants to do more than just put more police on the streets; Davis also noted the need to address underlying issues.
Davis, a former member of the City Council and state legislator, emphasized his experience bringing in business through the Chamber and promised to be a great partner for Sheriff T.K. Waters, who supported him. He cited infrastructure and crime as his top two concerns. He portrayed Deegan as being too liberal, inexperienced, and soft on crime to be the mayor of the city.
According to Davis, crime is Jacksonville’s top concern. In four years, he promised to add 200 extra police officers to the force.
Additionally, he made the revitalization of Downtown a central focus, stating again and time again that Downtown needs “more rooftops.” According to him, downtown would thrive with more workforce housing since it will result in more shops and restaurants.
On the subject of Confederate memorials, the two contenders had significant differences. Deegan promised to follow in the footsteps of current Mayor Lenny Curry and use city funds to have the Women of the Confederacy monument taken down.
Davis stated he would not move from Springfield Park.
Voting was done by about 33% of registered voters. Republicans outvoted Democrats 98,592 to 91,386, although 25,106 voters did not identify with a party.
According to the Duval County Elections Office’s results, Deegan is performing well in the northwest and south as well as the central city. Precincts on the far western, eastern, and southern parts of the city were taken by Davis.
At a Downtown restaurant on Tuesday night, Deegan said her campaign had created history and that “love won today.” Her supporters were cheering “Yes we did, Yes we did” around her.
Seconds after her victory speech, Deegan told WJCT News she felt “absolutely incredible.”
“I felt like we had such a coalition of voters across the political spectrum, and I was praying that was how we would win this race,” she said. “I really wanted to bring everyone in, and I am so grateful for the voters of Jacksonville who have come out and said, ‘We want unity,’ and that means everything to me.”
Deegan issued a statement later in the night proclaiming “a new day in Jacksonville.”
“Together, we will bring change for good to Jacksonville by making good on the decades-long broken promises on infrastructure, building an economy that works for everyone and improving access to health care,” she said. “We will break down the wall between City Hall and bring all the people in to create a city that works for everyone.”
Deegan’s victory was hailed by the Florida Democratic Party as a “massive victory.”
“For too long, Jacksonville has been led by Republicans who are hell bent on taking away our rights, and it’s past time that the city is led by leaders with new, fresh ideas who have a plan for Jacksonville,” party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement. “It’s a new day for Jacksonville and a new day for Florida Democrats.”