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Deegan appointee owed thousands in fines to department they were selected to lead

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Records obtained by Action News Jax show Mayor Donna Deegan’s appointee to head the Neighborhoods Department owed thousands of dollars in fines to the same department he now oversees.

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Director of Neighborhoods Al Ferraro said those fines were officially paid as of Tuesday morning.

Between February and March of this year, records Action News Jax obtained from the city show that then-mayoral candidate Al Ferraro was hit with 27 campaign sign violations totaling $2,635.

As of May 16th, Ferraro had paid $415.

“I went ahead and I paid for the first ones, just thinking that you know, that’s going to be the first two of four or whatever that number was,” said Ferraro in an interview with Action News Jax Tuesday.

Ferraro recalled the citations just kept coming.

“I needed paperwork to show me, this is what I owe because I didn’t want to pay something off and have this have a lean against my house or business. I didn’t know what would happen to it,” said Ferraro.

Ferraro was appointed by Mayor Donna Deegan to head the Neighborhoods Department on June 29th.

The same day, Action News Jax submitted the public records request that yielded documentation of Ferraro’s outstanding fines, which were owed to the same department he’d been selected to lead.

Just after that records request was fulfilled on Tuesday, Action News Jax was informed Ferraro had paid off the fines the same morning.

“It goes against my gain to pay something that I don’t believe in, but I just felt like being in this office and working for the mayor I don’t want any black eyes on anything,” said Ferraro.

Up until Tuesday, Ferraro had challenged the outstanding fines in court and even had a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

“I wanted to tell the story that I didn’t think the signs that we were getting charged for was from our campaign. We weren’t putting them in these places that we were getting fines,” said Ferraro.

Ferraro noted he wasn’t the only one slapped with numerous fines.

Court records show while he received the most fines at 27, Deegan received 22, property appraiser candidate Danny Becton received 19, Property Appraiser Joyce Morgan received 14, and Mayoral candidate LeAnna Cumber received nine.

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Meanwhile, Mayoral candidate Daniel Davis received four, and property appraiser candidate Jason Fischer received just one.

“We were going against the machine,” said Ferraro.

Considering those who were hit hard by violations and those who were not, Ferraro argued political retribution may have been involved.

“That’s not the way that politics and elections are supposed to be working in our country. We’re not a banana republic,” said Ferraro. “So, I think what I’m doing is the right thing to do to kind of put this to bed so that people see that we’re moving forward, but it also enlightens people of what we have to go through just running for office.”

Ferraro said one of the issues he faced throughout the ordeal was receiving notices of violations through different modes of delivery, which he claims made it difficult to understand exactly what he owed the city.

He told Action News Jax he’s interested in exploring ways to make that process more streamlined going forward.

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