‘Get moving’: LeAnna Cumber stresses infrastructure, personal narrative in Jax mayoral rollout

Cumber launch
'Leadership matters and we can and must do better.'

Jacksonville City Council member LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber kicked off her campaign for Mayor Monday afternoon with a speech tying together infrastructure, a rapidly changing city, and her personal narrative as an introduction to voters beyond her Southside district.

Cumber, a first-term Republican member of the City Council, hit on reformer themes, saying her goal was to make Jacksonville “the greatest Southern city in the country.”

“Leadership matters and we can and must do better,” she said Monday, a date exactly one year before the March 2023 First Election in the mayoral race.

Stressing the importance of a visible return for people on their local taxes, Cumber kept returning to the theme of logistics: making Jacksonville one of the “key transportation hubs on the east coast” and her desire to “build bridges” in an effort to solve community problems.

She drew on her own personal narrative as well.

I grew up alternating summer vacations between my grandparents in the Western New York Finger Lakes region — where my uncle raced stock cars — and then my abuelos in Miami, where the main language spoken is Español. I was raised in urban and rural communities. I’ve lived across our country. And, because I don’t sit still, I’ve had a wide range of life experiences. Most importantly — (being) a wife and mother. My first job was bagging groceries at Kroger. My second: slinging coffee at the local bakery. Then, working as a bilingual elementary school teacher, a lawyer, a transportation consultant.”

Cumber would refer again to her Cuban roots in the speech, stressing a low-tax and budget-conscious outlook. “I know firsthand from my fathers upbringing in Cuba what happens when government continues to take from its citizens without reason. I also understand based on my own upbringing why every penny a family has at the end of the day counts — not only for them, but for our society at large.”

In her close, she compared her position with that of another key figure in Florida’s history.

“Standing here over 100 years ago was a leader named Henry Flagler who had a vision for Florida. And today we stand here at the same place with a vision for Jacksonville that unifies us all: a city where its future will no longer end in renderings and strategic plans; a city where we will become a destination for those fleeing high-tax, high-regulation states; a city that will be home to new companies that want to leverage our workforce; a city that will be a place where people pull off I-95 to explore the best city in the South,” Cumber said.

The new candidate’s aspirational speech comes after months of carefully laying the groundwork for the campaign. Her JAX First political committee has already raised more than $2 million, a number helped by high-profile supporters like former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who helmed a Texas fundraiser for the Cumber committee.

Official candidates thus far have struggled to gain traction with donors, which means Cumber is set to instantly become the most dominant fundraiser in the race.

The leading official fundraiser is still Democrat Donna Deegan, who has raised more than $136,000 in hard money. She has roughly $265,000 on hand in her Donna for Duval political committee.

Other official candidates are far behind. Republican Al Ferraro, a current City Council member, raised $880 in hard money in February, giving him roughly $5,100 on hand. He has another $117,000 in the Keep It Real Jax political committee, which has not secured a donation since last September.

NPA candidates aren’t doing any better. Perennial candidate Omega Allen has raised a little more than $6,000, with $400 of that coming in February. And perpetual candidate Darcy Richardson hasn’t shown any financial activity.

Among undeclared candidates, the leading fundraiser is a political committee associated with Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis. Davis’ committee has about $3.6 million on hand.

Polling thus far hasn’t shown a lot of definition for candidates, with most of the response thus far seemingly tied to name recognition. But it indicates Cumber has work to do.

University of North Florida poll had her with 9% support, behind Deegan at 41% and Davis at 20%, but above Ferraro at 7%. However, that was up from 3 percentage points from a previous poll from the same outlet.

The race still isn’t complete, however. Davis will officially enter sooner or later, and there are expectations another Democrat will enter the race. Qualifying is in January, so there is plenty of time for people to make moves.

Florida Politics asked Cumber what her lane was in a race with the right wing Ferraro and the Chamber conservative Davis running as Republicans, but she rejected the premise of lanes existing.

“I think that’s a lot of people wanting to talk on TV and so forth talking about lanes,” Cumber said. “It’s up to people on blogs and on TV to talk about who has what lane and so forth, but I’m just interested in talking to the voters of Jacksonville.”

Democrats, meanwhile, issued a statement upon Cumber officially entering.

“I join the people of Jacksonville in expressing my outrage that far-right Republican LeAnna Cumber is running for Mayor of our great city,” asserted Daniel Henry, the chair of the Duval County Democrats.

“She is the very type of politician that a majority of voters dislike: a calculating and corrupt political opportunist in the mold of Donald Trump who will do or say anything to get elected. Her millions raised from a national network of right-wing and pro-Trump extremists won’t be enough to cover up the simple fact that she will always put her political career before our community. Jacksonville voters deserve to know about every facet of the JEA scandal and the millions of dollars being spent by right-wing extremists to buy the Mayor’s office.”

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


  • Westide of Jacksonville

    March 22, 2022 at 6:58 am

    Mrs. Cumber, you are very smart. We know that you will vote NO on removing Confederate Monuments, because you know that Whites will support you if you do. Please do not give into the Northside Coalition and Takeemdown Jax, because they will not vote for you no matter what you do or say.

    • Paul

      March 22, 2022 at 8:05 pm

      You could not have explained that in a more racist way than if you had actually tried to!

      • Westside of Jacksonville

        March 23, 2022 at 4:28 am

        I am sorry if the truth offends you Paul

Comments are closed.


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