Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams is the latest major Republican to back Nick Howland‘s campaign for City Council.
“Nick Howland is my choice for City Council in the special election on December 7th,” Williams said. “Nick has served as a Naval Officer and an executive in the defense and security industries, including with a leading manufacturer of law enforcement protective equipment. Nick will be a strong partner in our ongoing effort to fight crime and improve public safety in Jacksonville. I’m proud to endorse his campaign!”
“I’m thrilled to have our great Sheriff’s endorsement,” Howland said of the endorsement. “When elected, I will do all I can to help the men and women of JSO bring safer streets and neighborhoods to our great city!”
Howland is one of four candidates and one of two Republicans in the race to fill the unexpired term of Tommy Hazouri, who passed away in September. He has stacked endorsements since getting in the race. Numerous members of the City Council endorsed him early, as well as U.S. Rep. John Rutherford and state Rep. Wyman Duggan.
Though Howland has the establishment Republican lane on lock, the campaign likely will run through February and two separate citywide elections.
If no candidate wins a majority during the first balloting on Dec. 7, the top two finishers move on to a General Election on Feb. 22, regardless of party. Two Republicans could emerge from the First Election, or two Democrats, or one candidate from each party.
All candidates in the race must live in At Large Group 3, but voters can cast a ballot for whoever they want in both elections. There are no closed one-party primaries during either election.
One other Republican, Howland “Howdy” Russell, is in the race. Additionally, two Democrats are running.
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 has landed endorsements from Ruth’s List and will likely enjoy the bulk of left-leaning endorsements as long as she is in the race.
Polson, embracing the Hazouri legacy as a candidate, has declared the at-large seat a “Democratic seat.” She will not have the Democratic lane to herself, however.
James “Coach” Jacobs was the only candidate in the field who was running for the seat before Hazouri’s death, when it was to become open in 2023. He is not a strong fundraiser historically or presently, with less than $1,000 raised for what was the 2023 campaign, but has since been repurposed for the Special Election.
The first campaign finance filings in this race are due Nov. 10, encompassing all fundraising through the end of October.