On Friday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry defended the use of uniformed law enforcement members in a political ad that has been on air for weeks.
“Cops for Curry” featured uniformed Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office members saying Curry is a “strong leader” who works together with the Sheriff and is “leading on the right priorities.”
Local Pastor R.L. Gundy said last month he filed a Hatch Act complaint, also asserting the endorsement spots violated state and local code.
When asked for comment weeks back, Curry’s campaign referred us to Jacksonville’s Office of General Counsel. OGC contended that there was no violation of municipal code.
The story has moved since then. Last week, the Jacksonville Ethics Commission asserted that using cops in ads “erodes public trust in government.”
“The Sheriff and the General Counsel validated the right of free speech for off-duty law enforcement officers,” Curry said. “I believe in free speech. I’m proud to have earned the support of law enforcement.”
“I have a record. Not every incumbent is supported by law enforcement,” Curry said. “I’m very proud to have them speaking on my behalf and setting the record straight.”
The Mayor’s public safety record has been a talking point of the campaign, with opponent Anna Brosche messaging heavily against the “Curry crime wave,” a reference to murder rates still elevated after four years of increased public safety spending.
In an ad release last month, Brosche, a Republican serving on the City Council, said Curry had “nothing to say” about violent crime, as he was more focused on disparaging her.
Law enforcement, including the police union and the Sheriff, back Curry officially and have hammered Brosche over what they see as a newfound election-eve interest in public safety.
The latest poll from the University of North Florida reveals that for the 62 percent of voters preoccupied with crime, most back Curry.
Curry was also ahead of Brosche by 38 points in a public poll of the race conducted last month.
Early voting is underway, with the election Mar. 19. Curry needs 50 percent to avoid a runoff against the second-place finisher