There will be a competitive and contentious August Primary for a Jacksonville House seat after all, with both candidates coming out swinging.
The predominately Democratic seat likely won’t see much action in November, but the Primary will see Nixon face off against a political veteran who has served on both the Jacksonville City Council and the Duval County School Board.
“I want to continue my service to neighbors as a legislator and HD-13 contains a significant percentage of my old City Council District 10, before redistricting. I enjoyed serving those neighbors and portions of my old Duval County School Board District are included too. I’ve been effective working in a collaborative and bipartisan fashion to advance legislation and secure funding to address our neighbors’ needs while in elected office. It’s in many ways the natural evolution of my service (elected City Council Member and elected Duval County School Board Member) and my political mentors have long encouraged me to run to serve in the Florida Legislature,” Priestly Jackson told Florida Politics.
Those mentors include former Senator Betty Holzendorf, former Duval School Board member Gwen Gibson, the late Tommy Hazouri, and her uncle, Rodney Hurst, who is a former City Council Member and her former Duval County School Board members, she explained.
Asked why she is challenging Nixon, Priestly Jackson is blunt in saying the incumbent isn’t getting the job done.
“Legislative effectiveness is measured by an elected official’s ability to advance legislation and secure funding to improve the quality of her/his constituents’/neighbors’ lives. I don’t believe that is currently occurring.”
Nixon had a lengthy statement in response.
“Regardless of party affiliation, race, or background, all residents in District 13 deserve the freedom to live healthy, prosperous, and safe lives,” she said. “This includes having representation in Tallahassee that fights against the current state of things and instead focuses on secure and affordable housing, a quality education for all students, access to safe and comprehensive health care, and safer communities free from gun violence.”
She went on to paint Priestly Jackson as not supporting the same goals.
“Floridians are struggling to make ends meet after decades of Republican control of government. The other candidate will be more of the same — a lifelong establishment politician that will uphold the status quo, leading the charge along with her colleagues on City Council to go against the will of the people and circumvent the local redistricting process,” Nixon said. “I, on the other hand, have been a community organizer that knows our communities deserve more and that’s why I fought for equity and transparency in the state redistricting process.”
Priestly Jackson served one term on the Jacksonville City Council, leaving in 2023 after redistricting would have forced her into a rare member-against-member race against another Democrat, JuCoby Pittman, who is also a friend of Daniels.
“I believe that the current interim remedial map used for redistricting unjustly draws 85% of Black neighbors into the new boundaries for District 10 and the waiver of the residency requirements for nine of the 14 single member council districts erodes the Jacksonville Charter,” Priestly Jackson contended, explaining her decision not to run for a second term under the new map.
Priestly Jackson was a fan of the map enacted by the City Council, one which conformed to previous decades’ products, but which did not meet the muster of a federal court.
Beyond redistricting, Nixon says her “mission couldn’t be anymore clear: leave the community better than I left it and help equip our communities with the tools to get the resources to no longer survive, but to thrive and flourish.”
“I look forward to a clean race where voters will have an opportunity to decide whether they agree with that mission or the other politician that will maintain quality of life exactly as it is with no hope for improvement.”
Time will tell how clean this campaign ultimately is.
Nixon defeated Kim Daniels in the Primary in what was HD 14 before legislative redistricting in 2022 moved Nixon to 13. The two Democrats from Duval County have clashed since, including when Daniels (who returned to the Legislature in 2022) threatened Nixon with a defamation claim and said there had been ill will between the two for 12 years.
Daniels enjoyed Republican support in her runs for the Legislature, and it’s possible Priestly Jackson would have a similar broad coalition backing her bid to remove the most left-leaning politician in recent Jacksonville history, especially given Nixon’s outlier position on issues such as support of Israel. She was one of two people to vote in support of an Israeli ceasefire in Gaza during this fall’s Special Session.