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Brenda Priestly-Jackson is headed to the Jacksonville City Council.


Brenda Priestly-Jackson headed to Jacksonville City Council

Denied by Rick Scott, the voters chose her.

On Tuesday night, Brenda Priestly-Jackson thumped by a nearly 2-to-1 margin Celestine Mills in the Jacksonville City Council District 10 race.

Priestly-Jackson drew 3,344 votes (65,48 percent) compared to Mills’ 1,763 (34.52 percent).

Priestly-Jackson nearly won the whole thing outright in March, and every defeated opponent endorsed her soon thereafter.

For Priestly-Jackson, a former Duval County School Board chair, the win caps off nearly a year of seeking the seat, both on the campaign trail and in court.

In 2018, after Republican Terrance Freeman was appointed to fill the unexpired term of suspended incumbent Democrat Reggie Brown by Gov. Rick Scott, Priestly-Jackson sued.

Priestly-Jackson and other Democrats charged that Freeman, who established residency in the district by renting two rooms in a private home the day he was appointed, was not a legitimate pick because he moved to Northwest Jacksonville solely to serve on the Council.

The contention was that at the time the Governor’s appointment became official, Freeman still homesteaded and was registered to vote in Mandarin.

However, the city and state contended Freeman was not a Councilman until his swearing-in ceremony, and ultimately the legal challenge failed.

While Priestly-Jackson did not prevail in court, her campaign was a different matter.

“I grew up in this community … I’m a part of this community,” Priestly-Jackson said at one forum.

She vowed that she and her constituents will “serve together.”

She noted that the promises of Consolidation have not been “honored,” a point often made by former Councilman Brown.

“In District 10, we want the same thing they have in 14 or 7,” she said. “The same resources.”

In an irony, Priestly-Jackson and Councilman Freeman will serve together, the legal imbroglio of 2018 in the rearview mirror.

For her part, the newly elected Councilwoman is savoring the victory.


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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