Jacksonville City Council Special Election: Candidates talk top two platforms

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A special election has been called to fill the seat of the late and former councilman Tommy Hazouri.

Two Democrats and two Republicans are running for the at-large, Group 3 position. Action News Jax asked the candidates about their two biggest platform items.

One of two Republicans running is Howdy Russell, a local business owner who raised his kids in Jacksonville. Russell says his first priority is restoring public trust in city government.

”Regardless of parties, actually, we have issues in Jacksonville where too many of our leaders seem to be making decisions not based on what’s in the interest of Jacksonville but what is in their own interest,” Russell said.

Another issue, an extension of his first, is to be a fiduciary for the people -- a leader who is careful with voters’ money. ”There must not be enough money in the city of Jacksonville and yet somehow it’s okay if we give away a lot of money to special interest groups and non-profits just by a vote of some of the powers that be,” Russell added.

Action News Jax spoke with Nick Howland, the other Republican in the running. Howland is a Navy veteran and father of two who says his first priority is supporting public safety.

”We’re about 300 officers short of where JSO needs to be to effectively police the entire city of Jacksonville,” Howland explained.

Howland also plans to bring more jobs to Jacksonville. ”We need to expand our targeted industries to more logistics and manufacturing for middle-class jobs,” Howland added.

Action News Jax also talked to one of two Democrats running, Dr. Tracye Polson. She’s a licensed clinical social worker and a mother. Polson’s first priority is to build trust, transparency, and accountability on City Council.

”People feel like their elected officials aren’t engaging them. And so that’s something that we’re trying to do. We’ve been holding town halls through this campaign, and really trying to reach voters all across Duval,” Polson told Action News Jax.

Additionally, Polson is focused on climate change and says she has an action plan ready to go.

”The Naval Station Mayport is asking for 12 feet of mitigation. Folks in our armed forces know that this city is going to be underwater if we don’t act, and the time is now to work together, both local officials, as well as state, and definitely with the federal government,” Polson explained.

The other Democrat running for the spot is “Coach” James C. Jacobs. Since Monday, Action News Jax made several attempts to reach him through his website, social media, and by email, but we did not get a response by news time.

According to Jacobs’ website, he’s been “intimately involved in Duval County Schools since 2001″ and has a Bachelor’s degree in Public Safety Management

.Jacobs’ bio says his first priority is to improve the quality of life for all special needs families, citing a lack of Autistic and special needs programs. He says his second priority is to remove septic tanks in the city of Jacksonville -- especially in inner-city areas.

Action News Jax also asked the candidates about their solutions to crime and their plans for the confederate monuments in Jacksonville. You can read their responses here.

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