City Council District 8 candidate: Tameka Gaines Holly

Name: Tameka Gaines Holly

Family: Husband and 3 Children

Occupation: President and CEO, Tameka Gaines Holly Consulting, LLC and Executive Director, Transforming Communities Community Development Corporation

Political/Government experience: Mayor's Prevention, Intervention and At-Risk Youth Transition Subcommittee, Public Service Grant Council (PSGC), City of Jacksonville Strategic Partnerships Steering Committee

Years lived in Jacksonville: Native of Jacksonville, FL

Campaign website: www.votetameka.com

Why did you decide to run for office: I was born, raised, educated and currently reside in District 8. As a lifelong resident, I have seen the progress and regress throughout the District and am familiar with its needs, challenges and most importantly, opportunities. Moreover, I have served the Northwest Jacksonville community through personal and professional advocacy for many years. From acquiring millions of dollars and resources to address our greatest challenges to successfully advocating for the non-closure of our neighborhood schools, I have served alongside our community. Thus, at a time where we've seen great challenges in leadership within the community, I felt our residents and families deserved leadership in which they could be proud; leadership that would listen to their concerns and competently and effectively advocate for those concerns; and, leadership that demonstrates integrity in decision-making and firmly believes in good government. As a woman of faith, I came to know I am that leadership, so I took the leap of faith.

What is the biggest problem facing Jacksonville as a city overall, and how specifically would seek to address that: When we filed our candidacy over a year ago, for about three or four months, we conducted a "listening tour" around the District where we asked residents what they felt was the greatest challenge facing our city. From their responses, the greatest challenge facing our City is crime. In my experience in working as a Chief Program Officer for a local social services agency addressing the needs of mental health, economic development and education in one of the most crime-ridden areas, I have learned the underlying causes of crime are poverty, low employment and poor education. As a councilperson, I will engage the city, JSO, mayor's administration, faith community, educational institutions, businesses, nonprofits, and other stakeholders, to support the programs and services that address these socioeconomic issues, specifically the programs created by the Kids Hope Alliance in targeting our "at-hope" youth. KHA is a resource aimed to help combat these issues within our youth populations. Thus, I would continue to advocate for funding to address this issue as I've done in the past. I served as the Program Developer and lead collaborator for the Evening Reporting Center, (ERC), which is a KHA program that serves male juveniles as an alternative to detention in the highest crime zip codes, which happen to be within District 8. The ERC has a 90% success rate with participants not reoffending while in the Program.

What makes your constituents unique, and how would that influence your time in office: The District 8 constituency truly is a family, which makes it unique in many ways. We are a resilient community who believes in second chances, transformation and quality of life for all. We bond together in difficult times and will voice our concerns when and where needed. We choose to maximize each other's strengths while building up our weaknesses. As the councilperson for District 8, I commit to listening to our residents and ensuring we are informed with knowledge of how to effectively and sustainably address our greatest challenges and maximize opportunities. Therefore, as a lifelong resident of the District, who is infused throughout the fabric of the District's everyday life through shopping where the residents' shop, sending my children to school alongside the constituents' children and grandchildren, serving as the PTSA President of that same school, attending church within the District, I will be accessible and active in the life of the District and its constituents.

What would be your main budget priority for the upcoming fiscal year: For the upcoming fiscal year, my main budget priority will be to address the highest priority of the people I represent. This means the issue of crime will have my full attention and backing on combating this issue that plagues our District and city.

How do you define what you hope Jacksonville will be ten years from now: In ten years, I hope our city will be a city where my children will choose to reside and raise their families. It is my prayer the city is the safest city in the country, where families have livable wages, affordable housing and quality neighborhood schools. My hope is to have economic opportunities and our parks and recreational opportunities match our desire to grow and stated commitment to individuals and families. In ten years, Jacksonville should be the model city for opportunities where an inclusive culture is evident around the world.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: WOKV asked all candidates in a race to answer the same questions, and the answers here are their unedited responses. WOKV has not independently verified information in these answers, nor is WOKV endorsing any candidates.

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