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A rough year continues for Jacksonville City Council President Tommy Hazouri Sr.

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COVID-19 ‘infiltration’ shatters ‘confidence’ in Jacksonville City Council leadership

Virus rages, finger-pointing follows.

The hits keep coming for the embattled Jacksonville City Council.

A former president of the Council, second-term Republican Aaron Bowman, fired off an email to his colleagues, writing that he had “lost confidence” in the body’s collective response to COVID-19, given the recent “infiltration of COVID-19 throughout the Council spaces and the City Council chamber.”

Current President Tommy Hazouri canceled Tuesday’s meeting of the Council after Councilman Scott Wilson revealed his positive diagnosis, but Friday morning’s Bowman blast suggests that step and the subsequent cancellation of next week’s committee meetings isn’t enough.

“Several Council members and staff fall in the high risk category, myself being one of those. I am requesting immediate answers to my questions and a path forward that ensures we do not put any more people at risk. I am also asking that a plan be presented that will allow us to continue the business as we were elected to do.”

“We have had seven months to develop plans to conduct business safely yet instead we now have several COVID positives, multiple people in quarantine, family members at risk, and no plans in place to operate safely as a legislative body,” Bowman writes.

“Without immediate action, I do not see how we can continue in good conscience to subject our Council members, Council staff, Council families, and all they come in contact with to such significant danger,” Bowman adds.

The Councilman wants what he calls a “deep dive” with an “independent review.”

“People’s lives are at stake,” he told Florida Politics Friday.

Bowman stopped short of calling for the resignation of Hazouri, a second-term Democrat who worked closely with Bowman to enact landmark LGBT protections in the city.

“That’s a loaded question,” he said when asked if Hazouri, a former Mayor, should step down from his post.

“He has a lot of stuff going on his life and I don’t know how I would balance. Being President is like being a team captain — we rely on the President to get us down the field as a team. We failed,” Bowman said.

From the time he joined the City Council in 2015, Hazouri made no secret of his quest for the Jacksonville City Council presidency, a job that often represents the pinnacles of the careers of those who have it.

The political lifer had been a state legislator, a mayor, a school board member, and saw leadership of the Council as the capstone to a long career.

Though the Democrat won election by a 16-3 margin despite a Republican supermajority, storm clouds have loomed since he took the gavel in July, with personal health challenges and family legal woes compounding the difficulties of the job itself.

FP texted Hazouri for comment, but he chose not to offer any.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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