A pastor who was vocal in his opposition to expanding LGBT rights in Jacksonville is poised to become a member of the JEA Board, via recently filed legislation at the request of the mayor’s office.
And in doing so, that pastor will fill the vacancy of a councilman who introduced a bill for an expanded Human Rights Ordinance in 2012.
Fred Newbill, a Jacksonville pastor who was integral in the transitional period before Mayor Lenny Curry took office in 2015, and who also spoke at the joint inauguration of Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams, is poised to replace Warren Jones, who resigned earlier this year upon his election to the Duval County School Board.
Newbill, who has been politically connected with Republican mayors going back to John Delaney, has been in the news in the last year for political collaborations with Ken Adkins, the formerly politically-connected Brunswick pastor who was indicted on 11 counts of child sex abuse related to his former ministry.
Adkins and Newbill collaborated in opposition to Human Rights Ordinance expansion last December.
Adkins helped to manage a press conference of pastors who wanted to see an HRO referendum (which they expected to sink the bill). But the decision was made to keep the already controversial pastor and fellow HRO opponent Raymond Johnson out of the camera’s eye at that event.
After the push for HRO expansion ended with a withdrawal of both a bill that would do so by ordinance and one that would do so by referendum, Adkins and Newbill continued to collaborate.
The two co-messaged against scandal-ridden Judge Mark Hulsey during Hulsey’s re-election campaign.
Hulsey was re-elected, but is mired in a Judicial Qualifications Commission investigation of racist and sexist remarks he made, as well as a pattern of asking court employees to do work that went beyond their regular duties.
Ironically, when (not if) Newbill is confirmed by council to the JEA Board, his public opposition to HRO expansion will place him at odds with one of the most respected Republicans in Jacksonville history, one who also happens to be in favor of HRO expansion: Mike Hightower.
In October, Hightower addressed the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, urging all parties to “stay together and stay focused” to “get the HRO passed.”