Darnell Smith selected as Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan’s Chief of Staff
Jacksonville City Hall.

Deegan's first hire was in the position for just a few months.

Mayor Donna Deegan has selected Darnell Smith to be her new Chief of Staff, filling a void left by the just-departed Pat McCollough.

The Florida Blue North Region Market President will be an “executive on loan” from the company to the city, meaning the insurance concern will cover his salary and benefits.

Smith will take over Jan. 2, 2024.

“I’m excited and grateful that Darnell is joining the Mayor’s Office to lead our talented team,” Deegan said. “He will build upon our administration’s early successes, and with decades of experience and a deep love of Jacksonville, I believe he will maximize this transformational moment in time for our city.”

“It’s an honor to answer the call to serve Mayor Deegan and people across Jacksonville,” Smith added. “I believe in her vision of an inclusive and thriving city that works for all of us — and the shared value that our community is stronger when it’s united. I’m looking forward to working with Mayor Deegan and the team to take big steps forward for our city.”

It’s unclear, meanwhile, what McCollough’s next move will be.

Mayor Deegan was elected back in May, in an election that surprised many observers who expected better-funded Daniel Davis, a Republican endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, to win. McCollough was key to that victory, helming Deegan’s campaign and helping her consolidate the Democratic vote.

She could serve inside City Hall ultimately, or she could potentially work on the outside to help bolster a Deegan political operation that has gone dormant since her election.

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


  • why Darnell

    December 19, 2023 at 5:22 pm

    a black woman resigns, Deegan appoints a black man,,, we know who her supporters are don’t we???

    • MH/Duuuval

      December 20, 2023 at 10:49 am

      A competent (and definitely Black) high-ranking executive from a large healthcare outfit — for one year @ $1. What does race have to do with this?

      Also, the Mayor is pushing a local healthcare initiative — in lieu of Medicare expansion — so maybe Darnell will be helpful in this specific instance.

  • Unconsolidated for Transparency

    December 20, 2023 at 10:14 pm

    Confused how a private company that does significant business with the City (I. E. The only healthcare insurance provider for consolidated Jax/Duval) is going to “loan” us a Chief of Staff at no cost??? No chance for impropriety there!!!

Comments are closed.


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