The race to succeed termed-out Republican Jim Love in Jacksonville City Council District 14 is well underway, with three campaigns looking competitive nine months out from the first vote.
Democrats Sunny Gettinger and Jimmy Peluso are running strong campaigns early, but there are only two tickets out of the March “First Election” and into the May “General Election,” and currently leading in fundraising is Republican Randy Shoemaker DeFoor.
DeFoor, who by trade is a Senior Vice President, National Agency Counsel at Fidelity National Financial in Jacksonville, is Jacksonville born and bred.
An alumna of Episcopal High School, her family has been in Jacksonville for generations. But her motivation for running, she said in an interview at Riverside’s Bold Bean Coffee Wednesday, was driven by a potential breach of that legacy.
When one of her children graduated from the University of Virginia, she noted to herself that the “children she worked so hard to raise and educate would be for other cities’ benefits.”
This nettled DeFoor.
While participating in Leadership Florida, she went to the other major cities in the state, and came away convinced of Jacksonville’s superiority, in terms of everything from medical facilities and physical plan to the people.
The candidate believes, by and large, that Jacksonville is on the right track.
She thinks Mayor Lenny Curry, a fellow Republican who is just exiting his third year in office, has “done a very good job.”
Among Curry’s accomplishments are pension reform, and the fact that “downtown’s up and running,” with development ranging from the Barnett Trio to local colleges planning operations downtown.
Curry has messaged heavily on public safety, and has hired 180 more police officers. DeFoor thinks that still more officers are needed, given Jacksonville’s sprawling land size and the realities of law enforcement being spread thin because resources are concentrated in crime hot spots.
“Zone 4, which includes District 14, has the highest call rate in the city,” DeFoor said.
In addition to public safety, DeFoor believes that infrastructure issues are of paramount importance.
“Avondale, Riverside, and Ortega were all underwater during Irma,” the candidate said.
As well, “smart” growth is key as Jacksonville expands, she said.
When asked about leaders of the past she found inspirational, she mentioned two former City Council Presidents from the district: Michael Corrigan, now of Visit Jacksonville; and former Rep. Tillie Fowler.
“My district has had an unusually high number of strong, effective council members,” DeFoor said.