Jacksonville City Councilman and third-place mayoral finisher Bill Bishop again denied any quid pro quo was discussed with either Mayor Alvin Brown or Lenny Curry before awarding his endorsement to Brown last week.
“I get a kick out of that,” said Bishop during an appearance on WJCT’s First Coast Connect.
“What I first said is I won’t endorse at this time, and I’m running again in 2019. When I left the race, I said to my supporters, ‘do your homework.’ Then I realized, I too had to decide who I’m going to vote for. And after thinking about it, talking to them both and just seeing the lay of the land, I decided Mayor Brown was in the best interest of the city for the next four years.”
He continued, “Lenny can say anything he wants. There was no quid pro quo. I guess you can ask Lenny how many jobs he’s promised to people on his campaign. This is politics. He’s going to say what he wants because he didn’t get an endorsement, I suppose.”
Bishop, a moderate Republican, received 17 percent of the vote in the city’s First Election in March. His endorsement was sought by both mayoral candidates, who are in a tight race leading up to the May 19 runoff.
Says Lenny Curry campaign spokesman Brian Hughes, “Lenny was asked about his conversations with Mr. Bishop and answered as has been reported. At the same time, it’s interesting to note that while Bishop’s been asked three times about the conversations, he’s never said ‘no that’s not what happened.’ We also see news that many of Alvin’s endorsers are those who have received city taxpayer dollars or jobs, so it’s legitimate to ask, ‘What is Alvin’s campaign costing taxpayers?'”
Bishop rebuts criticism he has flip-flopped by first being vocal in his criticism of Brown’s time in office, then switching gears with his endorsement of the incumbent.
“He now has four years of experience in office, and Lenny has none. There’s a number of big-ticket issues that are still there. Even though the mayor and I did not agree on how he handled pension reform, the process and a number of pieces of the agreement that he proposed, he has in fact done more than anybody in the last I don’t know how many years to get us somewhere. And most of what was in his proposal was good stuff for the city. And I think rather than start all over again, I want to see this thing brought in for a landing, and I think he and his team are the best ones to do it.”
Meanwhile, Bishop also says he’s elated at this week’s opinion from the city’s Office of General Counsel that a law firm sign on the exterior of Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Arena is illegal.
“That all started when I drove down the expressway one day coming into town and saw the picture of three guys up there and thought, ‘What act is coming this weekend?’ And the closer I got I realized, it wasn’t an act, it was an advertisement. I found out it was a sponsorship deal that SMG had sold. I said, ‘I want those things down; they’re not supposed to be there.’ Nothing moved on it, so I filed legislation to make sure that never happened again.”
The Jacksonville City Council will consider an amended bill on the matter when it meets Tuesday.
“Where we’ll bring it in for a landing is the ordinance will be changed to keep the arena in the Sports Complex overlay, but to make any signage restrictions match those downtown under the downtown overlay,” he said.
“The arena is not the football stadium. The arena is a different sort of animal. Architecturally, the arena is a very fine design and it’s a civic monument. If we’re going to stick billboards all over that, where does it stop? Let’s stick them on City Hall, let’s put lawyer ads on the courthouse. I mean at what point do we stop this nonsense and uglifying our city?”
Worth noting: Bishop is himself an architect, vice president and principal of Akel, Logan, Shafer, a 50-year-old Jacksonville-based architectural and planning firm.