2023 Jacksonville City Council races begin to stir

Aerial View of Jacksonville, Florida in Winter at Sunset
Fundraising has already begun for some candidates.

A few candidates have begun to make early moves for the 2023 Jacksonville City Council races.

In At Large races, one candidate appears to be trying to discourage opposition by building a prohibitive war chest, while another race appears to be headed for more of an all-out war.

In At Large Group 2, incumbent Republican Ron Salem continued his steady fundraising in June, adding another $11,513 to his campaign account, pushing that total just north of $40,000 after two months as a filed candidate.

Among the donors: developers Michael Balanky and Toney Sleiman.

Salem, a pharmacist, also has nearly $130,000 on hand in his Moving Jacksonville Forward political committee. While he added nothing to that in June, donors in past months include the Jacksonville Jaguars. Salem is alone so far in his field.

While Salem appears to be on a glide path for a second term, Democrat Brenda Priestly Jackson has chosen a more complicated path.

The current District 10 incumbent, Priestly Jackson is running instead citywide, leaving the district race to former state Rep. Kim Daniels and others who have filed.

Running in Group 5, Priestly Jackson so far faces Libertarian Jerry Rorabaugh and Republican Chris Miller. Miller is a retired U.S. Army Colonel, which will matter to some voters.

Priestly Jackson offered a “welcome to the campaign” tweet to an unnamed opponent recently, suggesting she takes the challenge seriously.

When you realize that #thenowtimes just might juxtapose a Trumper & you for a seat on City Council, you know that as #ajaxdaughter you were born for such a time as this. I’m feeling Tom Petty & our UF Gators’ mantra, “I Won’t Back Down” & together we will stand for a #justjax.”

Fundraising has already started for Miller, with political heavyweights such as Sen. Aaron Bean, Rep. Cord Byrd, and Council members Danny Becton, Aaron Bowman, Kevin CarricoRory Diamond and Terrance Freeman stepping up so far. They will be among the hosts for an event slated for July 22. The fundraiser will be held at Angie’s Subs on Beach Boulevard.

At this writing, Priestly Jackson has not posted June numbers. Miller filed to run this month, so will have no fundraising to report until next month. Rorabaugh has $200 banked.

In district races, there isn’t much significant action yet, but one former state House candidate is looking to flip another district and had a decent first month of fundraising to that end.

Joshua Hicks raised $10,290 in his first month as a filed candidate in Council District 3. The seat is a Republican hold, but incumbent Bowman will be term limited. Hicks lost his challenge to Rep. Byrd by roughly a 2-to-1 margin in 2020 but seems undaunted as he attempts another challenging run.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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