U.S. Representative Al Lawson may have had good intentions when choosing to spend the first part of an off week in Jacksonville.
But intentions are one thing. And delivery is another.
Lawson’s itinerary, arrived at last week, was pretty straightforward.
Among other things: the first-term Democrat from Tallahassee was to go to Eureka Garden on Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by Mayor Lenny Curry and Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis.
However, the plan did not come together.
For one thing, Lawson called an audible and made his Eureka Garden visit on Monday — Presidents’ Day.
Mayor Curry was camping with his family.
Councilman Dennis likewise was busy with personal business.
The end result?
With no local political backup, Lawson arrived with representatives of the management company and police officers inside and outside the community center at the Westside Jacksonville apartment complex.
He spoke in generalities about the improvements on the property, discussing potential collaboration with Sen. Marco Rubio on HUD reform.
Even so, there was a tone deaf quality to his remarks. From “Whenever I get my pay check, I think of you” to his assertion that Eureka apartments — which made national news for months because of their issues — are “better than [his] apartment in D.C.,” Lawson’s presentation confused media on hand — especially those who have been immersed in the Eureka Garden story.
On Monday, Lawson announced his plans to accompany Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on a neighborhood walk — something Curry does regularly in neighborhoods left behind by Jacksonville’s progress.
However, those plans were for naught.
Lawson decided to cancel his participation on the walk Tuesday, hours before it was to kick off.
This visit to Jacksonville was pivotal for Lawson, replacing Corrine Brown — who was an effective legislator in terms of constituent service.
Brown was a Jacksonville Congresswoman, no matter how far her district stretched.
Locals, before this week, saw Lawson as a Tallahassee guy.
How do they feel now?
Rep. Lawson had an opportunity to prove to locals that he was as committed to the needs of Jacksonville, the biggest city in the district, as to the farmland out west and the state capital.
He needed those photo ops with the mayor and Councilman Dennis.
More importantly, however, he needed those insights from politicians who understand, better than most, the challenges of the local community.