Al Ferraro talks about ground game in his District 2 win

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Al Ferraro is a quiet, unassuming man with a lot to celebrate. For one, he has a 25-year wedding anniversary on Tuesday. For another, he’s the new Jacksonville District 2 city councilman.

Ferraro has a cruise booked with his wife, Amy, but it’s going to have to wait until he figures out what council will be require of him.

As those who have talked to him know, Ferraro takes nothing for granted. That included the outcome of last week’s election, which found him spending the final  hours before the polls closed “standing out in the pouring rain” campaigning for every last vote.

Ferraro describes his mindset.

“I was hopeful. Everyone kept saying we were doing well, but I didn’t take anything for granted.”

Part of that group of “everyone” included a lot of Democratic support, which might come as a surprise to many who thought that Ferraro’s win over Lisa King was just a component in a GOP tide.

“I had an enormous amount of Democrats working for us on our team,” Ferraro said. “From the very get-go, as we went door to door, I met with a lot of Democrats who were very upset with how things have been going” on issues such as a Human Rights Ordinance, the pension negotiations, jobs and public safety.

“A lot of times when I talked to Democrats, they sounded more conservative than young Republicans I’ve known,” Ferraro said, making an insight that most commentators missed regarding the bent of the electorate.

Ferraro also took issue with the recurrent argument that he wasn’t known well in his district.

“I’ve been working in the district for 30 years. People knew me,” he said. “People downtown didn’t know me,” which could have been the reason for the perception gap.

“I had a pulse on what people felt. I was out here with the people, and they were upset. They told me a lot of things in private,” he said, especially members of public-sector unions, that they would “never say in public.”

“People treated me like a family member coming back from a long trip,” Ferraro said, when he would see constituents out and about.

“I never lost focus on what people would tell me,” he said, mentioning again that his voters bristled against the “downtown establishment telling them what to do.”

“The average voter has a voice with me,” Ferraro said. “They can tell me what they feel about something in the district.”

The door-to-door contact was key, he said.

“The hard work is going door to door. Some driveways are one-eighth of a mile long” in this district.

Ferraro went to a number of houses where people would say things like “I’ve lived here 20 years, and you’re the first candidate who has ever walked up to the door.”

While doing that, he learned lessons. One big one was about the importance of drainage to an octogenarian couple he talked to. The woman was a wheelchair-bound double amputee, and Ferraro saw ant bites on her legs. The ants bit her when the property would flood and they would float to the surface, attacking her as her husband pushed her up the ramp toward the house.

With that and similar stories in mind, Ferraro wasn’t surprised he won.

“I knew exactly what was going on. I never regretted anything that I did,” he said.

All politics is local, and Al Ferraro’s first elected term was predicated on proving just how local they are.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski



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