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‘Underdog story’: Yolanda Thornton‘s longshot bid for Jacksonville Mayor

Jacksonville Democrat Yolanda Thornton wants to be Mayor.

And she has made her move, opening a campaign account in which there is room to grow.

Thus far, she has raised $100.

She has never held elected office before. Never been appointed to a city board or commission.

And she moved back to town only recently.

“I haven’t been back long enough to be involved with the party the way I’d like to be,” Thornton said.

And, as compared to candidates urged to run by one group or another, Thornton arrived at the decision without such urging.

Despite all of those factors, Thornton sees a path.

Winning, the candidate told us Monday, will take an “underdog ground game.”

“Stranger things have happened,” she said.

Thornton took a look at the field of candidates (cash-flush incumbent Republican Lenny Curry and a group of hopefuls who have not prioritized fundraising as yet) and noticed that she didn’t see anyone who reflected her “issues and concerns.”

When we noted that Democratic City Councilman Garrett Dennis was teasing a run, Thornton noted that she was “looking to see if he was going to run” but “he’s not there.”

But Thornton is.

She’s concerned about economic development, asserting that Jacksonville’s wages are 10 percent below the national average, and that many of the jobs coming here are “warehouse jobs.”

Though that is a debatable proposition, Thornton (a designer by trade, with a focus on product development) wants to see more “innovation” focused jobs targeted.

Thornton has lived in several other places in recent years, due to being a military spouse. She draws lessons from those experiences, including an increased need for “community” and promotion of “local businesses.”

Beyond her “underdog story,” Thornton sees an opening against the incumbent and his “political machine.”

“Some people are unhappy with how Curry is leading the city,” Thornton said.

Yet, she added, there has been a “silence in the Mayor’s race.”

Thornton intends to “reach out and connect with organizations” to make the case for her candidacy in the coming weeks.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at

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