The race to succeed a former President of the Jacksonville City Council is underway, with two Democrats and two Republicans qualified.
Democrat Tracye Polson is the choice of establishment Democrats such as Sen. Audrey Gibson, Reps. Tracie Davis and Angie Nixon, and expected 2023 mayoral candidate Donna Deegan. Polson, embracing the Hazouri legacy as a candidate, has declared the at-large seat a “Democratic seat.”
Polson raised $51,000 in her first week in the race, a sign of things to come.
James “Coach” Jacobs, the only candidate in the field who was running for the seat before Hazouri’s death, is also in. He is not a strong fundraiser historically or currently, with less than $1,000 raised. But he is a functional cap on Polson’s performance in the all-candidate First Election on Dec. 7.
Two Republicans have qualified, meanwhile, while a third decided to hold off.
Fire Watch Executive Director Nick Howland and restauranteur Howland “Howdy” Russell qualified Thursday.
Howland enjoys the support of U.S. Rep. John Rutherford and state Rep. Wyman Duggan along with a group of Republican Council members who endorsed him Thursday. He will be an establishment choice. Russell is a political newcomer.
Soil and Water Supervisor John Barnes suspended his campaign, saying he would run in 2023. He said he had raised $50,000 while in the race. Barnes’ withdrawal clears the establishment Republican lane for Howland.
The Hazouri seat will remain vacant until it is filled in the Special Election. Hazouri was one of just six Democrats on the 19-member Council. The Council has a Republican supermajority despite Duval County having roughly 40,000 more Democrats than Republicans.
All candidates must live in At-Large Group 3. However, both the First Election (Dec. 7) and the General Election (Feb. 22) allow voters across Duval County to vote for whomever they want regardless of party affiliation.
The First Election serves as an open Primary unless one candidate gets a majority of the vote, which is unlikely in a crowded field.
Meanwhile, because this election only fills Hazouri’s unexpired term through June 2023, the winner will immediately start running for reelection.