Longtime friend, colleague calling for council chambers to be named after Tommy Hazouri

“Tommy was Jacksonville, he was the people of Jacksonville,” Carlucci told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A life spent serving others.

Tommy Hazouri, Sr., passed away on Saturday, September 11th at the age of 76.

We told you last month when he was released into hospice care after being treated for complications from a lung transplant.

Now the community is coming together to keep his legacy alive.

RELATED: ‘He demonstrated such a love for Jacksonville’: Former mayor Tommy Hazouri admitted to hospice care

“His impact was amazing! Just think about it: state legislator, mayor, city council, school board, city council president,” said current Jacksonville City Council President Sam Newby.

City Councilman Matt Carlucci, Hazouri’s colleague and good friend, drafted legislation to have city council chambers named after him.

“We were like family. We were like brothers, I suppose he was my older brother. And he enjoyed being the older brother,” Carlucci said with a smile on his face.

The At-Large, Group 4 councilman said renaming chambers after Hazouri is fitting because everything he had to do, required him getting enough support in council chambers.

“Tommy was Jacksonville, he was the people of Jacksonville,” Carlucci told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

From serving as the Mayor of Jacksonville from 1987-1991, to dedicating eight years on the Duval County School Board, to the place where it all began -- at the Florida House of Representatives in 1974-- it was clear: Hazouri sought to make positive change.

“And the people who so often times don’t feel like their voices are heard in Jacksonville, they were heard. And they were heard because of Tommy...his voice speaking for them, even when they didn’t know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve felt it. I’ve seen the passion behind it. And I agreed with it,” Carlucci said.

Hazouri championed projects like removing toll roads from Jacksonville bridges, removing the odor from the Jacksonville air and crafting downtown’s environmental legislation.

Carlucci told Cole Hazouri’s last bill was to fund $100M to replace failing septic tanks in the most vulnerable neighborhoods. It’s just one of the accomplishments, on a long list, Carlucci said wouldn’t have been possible without his wife, Carol.

“She wasn’t behind him, she was next to him. You didn’t see her much, but she gave him a strength and to believe in himself and helped him accomplish so many things in Jacksonville.”

Carlucci said he’s not sure he, or the city, will ever be able to fill the void.

“It’s hard to lose a good, good, friend and Jacksonville lost a good friend on 9/11, with Tommy Hazouri,” Carlucci told Cole.

City council members will have the opportunity to vote on renaming the chambers, in an emergency vote, during tomorrow evening’s meeting.

We’ll update you with what they decide.

City Council President Newby, the Mayor’s Office and the Duval Supervisor of Elections are working to figure out the specifics when it comes to Hazouri’s, now vacant, At-Large, Group 3, city council seat.

Newby told Cole it will involve a special election.

Mike Hogan, Duval Supervisor of Elections, told Cole they presented information to President Newby, and City’s General Counsel, Jason Teal on Monday afternoon.

According to the City’s charter, Hazouri’s vacancy must be filled no earlier than one month, and no later than 6 months from the day it became vacant.

The Chief Elections Assistant at the Duval County Supervisor of Elections said they’re looking at December 2021 and February 2022, if a run-off is necessary.

Hogan told Action News Jax the estimated cost is about $1,240,800.00 per Election.

To give that price some context, Robert Phillips, the Chief Elections Assistant at the Duval Supervisor of Elections said $1.2M - $1.5M is the average price tag on a countywide election.

RELATED: Funeral arrangements announced for former Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Hazouri

“One of the things that we’re going to do tomorrow, we’re going to dedicate the council meeting, in the memory of Tommy Hazouri, and we’re going to have a tribute and we’re going to let all the council members have three minutes to talk about him. And then in the next couple of weeks we’re going to do a memorial here at City Hall,” Newby told Cole.

While Hazouri was a Democrat, he was known for striving to work with everyone regardless of political affiliation, and which makes who ends up in his city council seat, significant.

When it comes to who will pay for the special election, Hogan told Cole it’s Duval County taxpayers who will be footing the bill.

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