Greg Anderson looks back on his Jacksonville City Council presidency
Jacksonville City Council President Greg Anderson

Greg Anderson

It’s hard not to like Jacksonville City Council President Greg Anderson.

When the at-large councilman assumed the yearlong position of president last summer, one media headline lauded him as a “Southern Gentleman.”

And despite the slings and arrows from people on and off the council, he has lived up to that designation.

He came to the presidency at the same time a Republican of his demographic and essential temperament, Lenny Curry, took over the executive branch.

Anderson, in a conversation Wednesday afternoon, characterized the relationship between the mayor’s office and him as “good,” with “pretty constant communication” between him and the mayor, “especially when the budget was introduced” last year.

The relationship is solid, even as much of the interface between him and the mayor’s office is on the staff level, with figures such as Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa, Chief of Staff Kerri Stewart, CFO Mike Weinstein, and Ali Korman Shelton becoming increasingly prominent in interoffice communication.


Anderson, of course, was on the city council for the four years of the Alvin Brown administration, and is in position to draw an informed contrast between the two teams.

“(Curry’s) team came in with a level of institutional knowledge that created instant credibility,” Anderson related.

The impression was augmented by a balanced budget, which aligned with “the vision council laid out.”

Meanwhile, said Anderson, the “Brown administration tended to be in the moment,” whereas “this administration seems to have created a plan.”


Of course, the honeymoon for the Curry administration is over, as anyone who heard the fractious 70 minutes of public comment Tuesday evening in the council meeting would attest.

Activists from Northwest Jacksonville, such as Diallo Sekou of the Kemetic Empire and Pastor R.L. Gundy, spoke at length about issues ranging from a need for body cameras for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office; a lack of infrastructure investment in Northwest Jacksonville; and a general feeling among activists that, no matter what revenue comes out of the pension tax, their communities won’t get what they’ve been promised for a half-century since city/county consolidation.

“There is angst in the community,” Anderson said, and a “need to lay out a plan of action” regarding the violence and economic disparity affecting the community.

“The mayor’s got to lead on this,” Anderson continued, as each council member has his and her own district agendas and priorities.

“It’s got to happen on the executive level. It doesn’t happen if it’s not in concert with the administration,” Anderson continued.


That’s true of more issues than disparities in Northwest Jacksonville.

One issue, which Anderson devoted a lot of the council’s energy toward resolving was expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance.

Anderson set up an ambitious schedule of meetings on the subject, which ultimately weren’t completed, as bill sponsor Tommy Hazouri withdrew the bill because he didn’t believe he had the votes.

Still, Anderson would not have done the process differently.

“We needed a civil discourse,” Anderson said, in which “the community could rise above the rhetoric” from 2012 and created a “process where all could win.”

“The process was moving us in that direction,” Anderson said, and now there is an “opportunity for President Elect Lori Boyer to manage the process in the way she feels best.”

“The level of conversation,” Anderson continued, “while it was heated and pointed at times,” was generally one of “mutual respect.”

Meanwhile, “the mayor surprised” Anderson, with his position (that expansion of the HRO wouldn’t be “prudent”) not being one Anderson anticipated.

“The process was headed to a place where council members could provide input,” Anderson said, with amendments and so forth.

Of course, it didn’t get there this time around, but “the process was going to get there; it just wasn’t there yet.”

When Hazouri reintroduces the bill, Anderson expects to “get to the key issues sooner.”

Anderson, who supported the LGB version of the bill in 2012, believes “we’re a community that treats each other with respect” and doesn’t discriminate.

Still, he said, “sometimes it’s best” to have those values of inclusion “in writing.”


Another issue in need of full resolution: the Vehicles for Hire Committee, which was intended to resolve a standoff between ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft, and the cab industry.

“We had a template of a couple of ways to move forward. I was hoping the committee would come together,” Anderson said, noting there were “not that many issues” of disagreement.

Now, Anderson says, “we talked about it enough. We need to move forward.”


Despite the lack of resolution of protections for the LGBT community and the continuing contretemps between cabs and the ridesharing industry, Anderson characterizes the last year as very successful.

“I look back at things we wanted to achieve,” Anderson said, and “we got a lot done” on issues ranging from public safety to bringing 11 new council members onto the team.

Beyond those, a “lot of foundational goals” were accomplished.

Among them, a “very successful year” of job growth, with “names like Google and Amazon in the same sentence as Jacksonville” and “international companies looking at Jacksonville for job growth and investment.”

Another foundational goal in the books was the JEA Agreement.

“We spent a good while on that agreement,” Anderson said of the deal which established JEA’s contribution to the city through fiscal year 2021,  and a 50/50 split on $30 million of investment in sewer lines over five years.

“We got a true partnership,” Anderson said, one that offers a “level of stability for the budget.”

And still another foundational goal: “broad support on the council side [on] pension issues,” including “bipartisan support for the Curry plan” for the pension-tax referendum.

With commitments made to rebuild the Coastline Drive/Liberty Street span, with JTA doing some interesting things, and with the St. Johns River Ferry being sustainable for the future, a “number of important things” have been accomplished.


One key, yet controversial, accomplishment: “making certain sports facilities,” such as the EverBank Field sports complex, “remain relevant.”

Last year, the city approved a $90 million capital improvement project for an amphitheater, a covered practice field, and club seat improvements.

This measure struck some as corporate welfare.

To Anderson, it was good business.

Upgrades, he said, can get “more years of service” out of facilities, removing market pressures for replacement as exist in other markets.

“It’s the best solution for taxpayers,” Anderson said, and people are “going to see a pretty amazing experience over there.”

A.G. Gancarski

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


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