Jacksonville Urban League president launches independent mayoral campaign
Richard Danford won't run for Jacksonville Mayor.

Richard Danford is running to spread a message — let neighbors be heard.

A fourth official candidate has entered the growing field of Jacksonville mayoral candidates for the 2023 election cycle.

Jacksonville Urban League President Richard Danford filed Monday, entering a race that already includes two Republicans and an independent candidate. But winning the election isn’t the goal.

“I’m running because I believe this is the only thing left to make the system work for people rather than the politicians,” Danford said. “I’m not looking for votes or contributions.”

Rather, he is running to make a point.

The 76-year-old Danford is running as a no party affiliation candidate, and his goal is simple — to give neighborhoods access to City Hall in a way he says currently does not exist. He cites the 1995 Neighborhood Bill of Rights, passed by the City Council of the time, as providing guidance that allows neighborhoods’ input.

However, that document is not part of the City Charter, and Danford says people are shut out from offering input on budgets and other key functions of city government as a result, creating a “marginalization of our citizens.”

Just as people lack access to the Mayor’s office, Danford notes City Council doesn’t really seek much input either, with just three minutes allocated per speaker.

“Most don’t listen,” Danford said of the legislators on the dais during public comment periods.

Danford wants the Neighborhood Bill of Rights to be enacted. As things stand, he sees donors as swaying the process unduly.

“Everybody knows. They say that’s how it works in Jacksonville,” Danford said, noting that “the system is working for somebody,” but not for the average citizen.

Danford’s wife, Joyce Morgan, is a Democrat on the City Council, but Danford is an NPA. He noted he had been a Republican, registering as such to vote against State Attorney Angela Corey in 2016. But he won’t run for Mayor as one.

“Can you imagine the Republican Party putting me up for Mayor,” he said, laughing at the prospect.

Danford added that Council member Morgan would make a great mayoral candidate herself.

“I don’t know why the Democrats won’t put her up,” he said.

Danford had no shortage of criticisms of current Mayor Lenny Curry.

“He can’t even pick up the trash,” Danford quipped.

Danford joins what has become an expensive campaign for other candidates, both declared and those still testing the waters.

Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis is the leading fundraiser among those known to be looking at the race. He had $2.5 million on hand in his state-level Building a Better Economy committee as of the end of August.

The second-best fundraiser in the race, Republican City Council member Matt Carlucci, says he has raised more than $1 million for the race already between his campaign account and that of his state-level Next Generation Jax political committee.

Another Republican City Councilman running, Al Ferraro, had roughly $47,000 in hard money as of the end of August. Ferraro also had $116,000 in a local political committee called Keep It Real Jax.

One Democrat is currently exploring a run. Donna Deegan‘s Donna for Duval political committee has raised roughly $125,000 in two months so far through August.

Republican Council member LeAnna Cumber also is exploring a run. To that end, she has opened a political committee called JAX First. Cumber’s decision to run for Mayor will be made in early 2022.

Darcy Richardson, another independent candidate, is also in the mix. He has run for various offices under third-party banners for decades, and is a message candidate.

All candidates who qualify will be on the March 2023 ballot. The so-called First Election allows people to vote for candidates of their choosing regardless of party affiliation. If no candidate gets a majority, the top two move on to the May 2023 General Election.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Christine Fletcher

    October 4, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    Good for you Dr Danford-finally a VOICE FOR EVERY MAN: we need someone who isn’t interested in politics and lining their pockets and political future but the average person without connections!!!

  • Darcy G Richardson

    October 6, 2021 at 4:29 am

    I agree with Christine.

    As one of the four officially declared candidates running for mayor of Jacksonville, I wholeheartedly welcome Dr. Richard Danford, Jr., president of Jacksonville’s Urban League, into the mayoral contest.

    He’s far better than the establishment’s other candidates — the choice of the local Chamber of Commerce (a guy who has raised the most money yet nobody knows who he is), perennial politician Matt Carlucci, another marsupial jumping from one office to another like Jerry Holland and so many other local officeholders due to term limits, failed Democratic congressional candidate Donna Deegan, or unimaginative knee-jerk conservative and Lenny Curry lackey Al Ferraro.

    Jacksonville could do so much better.

    It’s too bad the Democrats aren’t taking this race seriously.

    A Vietnam army veteran, graduate of historic Florida A&M with a doctorate from the University of Florida, president of Jacksonville’s Urban League and a founding board member of the Florida Coastal School of Law, Danford’s independent candidacy — flying in the face of both parties and, more importantly, the River City’s powerful political Establishment — is a breath of fresh air.

    I wish him well and I welcome him into the race..

    The fact of the matter is that Danford or his wife, City Councilwoman Joyce Morgan, could lead this city to the next level. And that’s where we need to be…

    After all, we’re supposed to be the Bold City of the South. With the right leadership, we could be one of the greatest cities in the country.

    A prudent and fiscally conservative former Republican (I won’t hold that against him), Danford has a breath of experience in juvenile justice reform and, impressively, was a founding board member of our city’s Florida Coastal School of Law a quarter of a century ago. To this day, it’s one of the only law schools in the country that requires every graduate to do pro bono legal work prior to graduating. How cool is that?

    Richard has also done more than his fair share to guarantee that the residents of our city’s most impoverished and downtrodden neighborhoods have a fighting chance at pursuing the American Dream…

    None of the leading candidates have that kind of record. Not even close. And that’s a fact.

    In any case, Dr. Danford appears to be running for all the right reasons — namely, to represent this city’s long-neglected neighborhoods — and there are many, black and white majority communities alike. Our city’s leaders put minimal resources into our working-class and poor neighborhoods. They don’t care, plain and simple.

    This city’s forgotten neighborhoods — by and large, the same pot hole-filled, irnored and crime-ridden ones that existed in the River City when I first moved here almost 29 years ago with my late partner — would be well-served by a forward-looking administration that wasn’t put in place by Jacksonville’s so-called “donor class,” the self-satisfied, smug and financially comfortable “Establishment,” for lack of a better word. They’re the same elites who have had their way at the ballot box way in virtually every mayoral election since the late Jake Godbold’s administration.

    I wish Dr. Danford well. Like myself, he cares about our urban core and loves every neighborhood in this city.

  • Darcy G Richardson

    October 6, 2021 at 4:54 am

    “breadth of experience”

    “ignored and crime-ridden”

    Sorry about the typos.

Comments are closed.


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