John Delaney endorses Lenny Curry, cites “Jacksonville Values”

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On a sun-drenched Wednesday afternoon at the Southbank Riverwalk, former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney, “here in his capacity as former mayor,” formally endorsed fellow Republican Lenny Curry for mayor. That ended a silence some had thought conspicuous and broke with his long-standing policy of not endorsing in Jacksonville mayoral races, as  reported here Tuesday night.

Before the event, Delaney addressed the mechanics of the endorsement. For him, it comes down to the competence of the man now in city hall.

“I’m really concerned about the budget,” he said, as well as the “lack of progress” on a panoply of key issues, including the pension crisis (which Delaney claims the city is actually behind on, compared with the end of John Peyton‘s term), the port expansion, and the uncertain future of UF Health, which is “on the verge of closing.”

Those concerns, he said, led him to break with his longstanding no-endorsement policy.

“I haven’t endorsed before, but the city is in different shape now,” he said, comparing the “freshness” of Curry’s perspective, with his perception that there is “no energy from city hall” when it comes to providing leadership.

“Mayor Brown has a lot of gifts,” Delaney mused, but “management is not among those,” adding that on the pressing issues, a mayor has “gotta do something,” and inaction is tantamount to “pandering.”

“I’m distraught over the city’s finances,” he said, as well as the bond ratings that have been dropped twice. He also mentioned the fact that an outside auditor “can’t get the records” he needs for the audit from the city.

“Taxes have been raised this term more than they have by any Mayor over the last 50 years,” Delaney said.

“The mayor’s not candid,” he said. It’s “time for leadership.”

The former mayor harpooned the Brown’s oft-repeated contention that he is a consensus builder, saying that “for a self-described bipartisan leader, I don’t see any cooperation” from council.

“His proposed budgets are fairy tales,” he said.

The former mayor clarified a couple of misconceptions that have been floated. Contrary to the assertions of some, he said he “didn’t participate in the JAXBIZ endorsement process” that saw the Chamber endorse Curry over Brown.

As well, some have stated that the former mayor had advocated a tax increase at the Meninak Club. Delaney clarified the position, saying that he expected revenue enhancement to take the form “in all likelihood [of] a property tax.”

Delaney was not expressly advocating for a tax increase. That said, essential “services are not funded” and “you’ve got to fund the city somehow.”

Regarding the Chamber’s support of the anti-discrimination ordinance, which Curry has not signed off on, Delaney cautioned that the “endorsement is not code” for Curry’s movement on this position, “but I know Lenny will listen.”

That was in contrast to Brown’s prevarication on the issue, who “told the gay community he’d sign it, and told the evangelicals he’d veto it.”

“I’m not going to agree on every position Lenny advocates,” Delaney said, but he trusts Curry has an “appropriate set of values.”

Voicing his “concern about the state of the city,” Delaney had asked Nat Glover to tell Brown that he was leaning toward Curry on Saturday, for the reasons already stated.

Then it was time for the endorsement event itself.

“Since I left office,” Delaney said, “I have not endorsed for mayor” but times have changed.

“City hall and the city’s finances are in shambles,” he added.

Regarding the Brown’s insistence that he hasn’t raised taxes, Delaney pointed out that he didn’t veto the property tax millage increase.

“Mayor Brown has not been honest,” Delaney said, regarding “the largest property tax hike in 50 years.”

Citing Curry’s “freshness, sunniness, and business acumen,” as well as his “business instinct” and his “Jacksonville values, not Washington, D.C., values,” Delaney reiterated his support for Curry.

For Curry, the endorsement is important, especially in context of Delaney’s legacy of “leading and collaborating,” which jibes with his own “vision to restore Jacksonville to greatness.”

Expect for Delaney to be publicly involved in the campaign going forward.

Meanwhile, Brown campaign spokesman Yianni Varonis released this statement:

“Since party boss Lenny Curry has been busy calling in favors from national Republicans over the last several weeks, this endorsement is no surprise. The reality is that John Delaney is finally making it public that he’s decided to make a political decision to back his Republican colleague. But while boss Curry is focused on bringing together only those within his own party, Mayor Brown has shown true leadership by working with Republicans, Democrats, and independents to reduce crime, create 36,000 new jobs, and cut unemployment in half. It is for this reason that Mayor Brown is endorsed by Republican City Council members Ray Host and Stephen Joost.”

 

 

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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