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Quartet of Jax Dems make pitch on candidates’ forum on local gospel station

On the African-American Christian radio station Pure Radio, a quartet of Democrats made their case to the voters Monday on a forum hosted by Anthony “Wealthbuilder” Curtis. Supervisor of Elections candidate Tracie Davis was joined by District 7 city council candidate Reggie Gaffney and incumbent council members Kim Daniels and Reggie Brown to make their case to what Daniels called a “faith-based community.”

An interesting side note: Wendell Sams, running opposite of Gaffney in District 7, claims that forum inclusion wasn’t “offered to candidates that were not broadcasting commercials through Pure Radio Station.”

The topics ranged from how to increase voter turnout to social programs designed to help what candidate Gaffney called “the least of us.”

Davis spoke about the electorate, which she (the current Deputy Supervisor of Elections) characterized as engaged.

“Democrats and Republicans are coming out to vote. They are excited. What we’re looking for [as an office] is an ability to touch young voters” historically less than engaged.

To boost youth participation in the electoral process, Davis proposed that the office “increase presence in local high schools.”

Asked about second-term goals, Daniels said, “Focus on our jails,” and boost commitment to the Jacksonville Journey program.

“When we focus on the Journey going from $25 million to $2 million, that’s a problem,” she said.

Daniels and Brown were asked a provocative question: “If you and Reggie Brown are both elected, what are you going to do differently?”

Brown said he would “encourage council even more to work together. Council is not taking care of the business of the city” as it relates to “infrastructure” especially.

Daniels, meanwhile, made the case for experience on council.

“There’s a lot to learn before a councilperson is chamber-ready,” she said. She thanked  “Councilman Brown and others for teaching” her. “It takes a team,” she said.

Daniels, who started off in Christian ministry “ministering to young ladies on drugs,” said there is opportunity for council members to “stop recidivism” by taking the word of God to the Duval County Jail.

“I’m looking forward to evangelizing the jails with the new sheriff,” the At-Large Group 1 incumbent said. It’s needed, she said, because “the system is jacked up. Probation fees and court fees” add up, an impact compounded by being “labeled a felon.”

“People need support in transition,” Daniels said.

Brown echoed his colleague’s advocacy of the Jacksonville Journey, which mayoral candidate Lenny Curry and sheriff’s hopeful Mike Williams have seized as a campaign issue.

“If we get back to what we know works,” we’ll have success, Brown said.

Interestingly, there appeared to be a symbiosis between the forum and the station’s commercial ties. Daniels pays for half an hour of airtime every day, while the station featured an ad for Councilman Brown, paid for (as was Daniels’ Times-Union ad) by Next Generation Leaders Trust (otherwise known as Next Generation Leaders ECO, which has gotten significant capital in recent weeks from Lee Ann Rummell, wife of Peter Rummell) and Regent Consultancy LLC, whose title manager is Shahid Khan.

Lee Ann Rummell donated $19,000 to the trust on Feb. 23; Khan’s company donated $20,000 on March 4.

Lee Ann’s husband, Peter, is a high-profile supporter of Lenny Curry for mayor, while Khan backs the re-election campaign of Mayor Alvin Brown. Lee Ann Rummell has strong religious convictions and a personal appreciation for Daniels (and presumably Councilman Brown, given the ad buy). All of that is a reminder that politics in Jacksonville is a complicated game.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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