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Tameka Gaines Holly launches run in Jacksonville City Council District 8

Embattled and often controversial Jacksonville City Councilwoman Katrina Brown will draw a new challenger on Wednesday: Tameka Gaines Holly.

Holly is a community activist who went to school in District 8 (Ribault), has worked and lived there all her life, and will — with the backing of community stakeholders — be able to make a credible challenge to the embattled incumbent.

But Holly doesn’t see it as a race against Brown, who has not filed yet. And, says Holly, Brown filing or not will not weigh on her decision to run.

Holly, the wife of a retired police officer, didn’t want to talk about Brown’s drama — not the botched BBQ Sauce plant, and not about Brown’s decision last year to accuse the police of racially profiling a colleague at a late night traffic stop.

“I don’t know. I don’t talk to the community about it,” Holly said. “I’m too busy working.”

In other words, those who expect a reprise of the heated campaign between Brown and Pat Lockett-Felder, who shamed Brown at a forum with a call to pay delinquent business property taxes, are boung to be disappointed.

Holly sees a Councilwoman’s role as helping people in her district know what services are available, and advocating for them.

This is her extension of work for Transforming Communities, a community development corporation that has helped 500 families through such gambits as Irma relief, rental assistance, and a Christmas giveaway.

Conversation moved to the often fractious relationships between African-American males in District 8 and law enforcement, as illustrated by the recent “Walking While Black” collaboration between the Florida Times-Union and Pro Publica.

“Communication and collaboration is key,” Holly said, advocating for “community policing” and “understanding that the safety of communities is everyone’s responsibility.”

Stops for jaywalking often are used as so-called “pretextual stops” of the stop and frisk variety; Holly said that there needs to be a “conversation,” including “hearing what JSO has to say.”

When asked about cannabis decriminalization — a policy instituted in many cash-strapped cities but never even considered in Jacksonville — Holly said that there is a “need to understand what the community feels” via a “conversation.”

“I haven’t had those conversations,” Holly said.

Holly describes herself as “ready, capable, and confident,” and she will present an interesting challenge to Brown.

Another well-known candidate — Diallo Sekou — is also in the field. If the field has three or more strong candidates, there is a good bet that the race will not be decided in the March 2019 blanket primary, and that a general election vote in May will be necessary.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at

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