Terrance Freeman, the current Vice President of the Jacksonville City Council, will become Council President in late June.
The full City Council voted for his candidacy, with no competition nominated from the dais.
Freeman, who worked as a staffer for the Council less than a decade ago, will be the second straight Black Republican at large Councilman to hold the position.
Nominating him, Republican Kevin Carrico described the “anointing” of Freeman after a prayer meeting with other Council members, in an anecdote illustrating the Christian faith of both men. Carrico extolled Freeman’s “heart for service” and other servant leadership tropes, as well as describing his love for family and golf.
Ju’Coby Pittman, a Democrat appointed to the Council along with Freeman by Gov. Rick Scott in 2018 to fill seats vacated by the suspension of two indicted Council members, seconded the nomination. He did not run for election in District 10, to which he was appointed, but ran at large in the 2019 election.
In his first remarks as President-designate, Freeman gave a speech with unifying themes, saying the Council would “continue to seek truth” and billing himself as a “peacemaker.”
“My prayer before every meeting is that my pride is humbled so I can be an active listener,” Freeman said, advising against letting “disagreements turn into slanderous arguments.”
Though Freeman is running for re-election in 2023, he looks to have an uncomplicated path, with no opposition and roughly $140,000 cash on hand.
Freeman will take over as current President Sam Newby’s year presiding over the Council comes to an end. There has been a historic significance to this year, the first time in the history of Jacksonville that Black politicians served as Council President and Vice President at the same time. Newby, like Freeman, is a Republican.
The race for Vice President was not as closely handicapped by outside observers as it had been in years past, where drama and intrigue characterized dealings up until the final vote.
Pittman nominated Republican Ron Salem for the VP position, again crossing party lines to do so. With just five Democrats on the Council and two of them leaving early to run for higher office, the opposition party proved to offer very little opposition to the GOP leadership slate. Salem does face a Democratic challenger in 2023, with former state House candidate Joshua Hicks running for Salem’s own at-large seat.
Michael Boylan, who also ran for VP, offered a conciliatory second “in the interest of collegiality” before the ballot was closed and the vote began, with no other nominations.