Carlucci family legacy, negative campaigning set tone in Jacksonville City Council District 5

Roberts Carlucci
Joe Carlucci stressed his endorsements by local law enforcement.

Is the Jacksonville City Council ready for the next Carlucci generation to make its mark on city government, and would doing so make conversations between father and son Sunshine Law violations?

These are just a few questions District 5 residents had to ponder as they made their way to the polls to choose their next Council member — either businessman Joe Carlucci or Amazon finance leader Morgan Roberts, both running as Republicans. 

The Carlucci legacy debate opened up as a salient issue in a campaign otherwise not showing much daylight between the two candidates on policy.

“But a father and son serving together on the same city council is bad business and it’s bad for Jacksonville,” Roberts said in an email to supporters. “All of us can understand the special relationship between a parent and their child. We are called to help them, guide them, lead them. I know this, because I am a mother. Under Florida’s Sunshine Law, all of those interactions would be illegal.”

Carlucci, in the campaign and as a response to transparency questions, stressed his endorsements by law enforcement, including the local police union, expressing that he would follow the law on the matter.

In a mail piece sent around two weeks from the election, he embraces the legacy, as the piece states, “3rd Generation Leader: Joe is a Jacksonville native who grew up in District 5 and attended our local schools.” The text runs next to an image of Carlucci with his wife and children.

City Councilman Matt Carlucci, in a tweet, implied Joe’s effort is notably distinct, despite the family ties.

“Joe has a great team (and) has run his own campaign,” Matt Carlucci wrote. “Has his own impressive public service record in (D)istrict 5 where born and raised. He knows (and) understands the district like his living room.” 

There is a family connection in the late negative campaigning, as a political committee tied to Carlucci paid to develop a website and video attacking Roberts. Called Effective Leadership for Jacksonville, it lists Matt Carlucci Jr. — the Councilman’s son and Joe Carlucci’s brother — as its Chairman, Treasurer and registered agent, while the address and phone number are the same as The Carlucci Agency on Hendricks Avenue.

Regarding the video, Roberts tweeted, “Looks like the honeymoon is over. Wow. This is not the type of politics we need in District 5.”

Going into Election Day, Joe Carlucci reported raising more than $204,200 and spending more than $167,100. Roberts received nearly $183,100, spending more than $134,400. Effective Leadership for Jacksonville reported spending more than $35,800 since December, all of it going to Jacksonville firm Topside Strategies.

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


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