With a little more than a month before the March 24 election, the First Coast Tiger Bay Club will hold an at-large City Council candidate forum at 11:30 a.m. Friday during its monthly meeting, at the venerable University Club in Jacksonville.
With five at-large races, it will be a crowded forum, and in its monthly newsletter, the Tiger Bay Club gives strong indications about the depth and seriousness of the event.
The newsletter urges club members to review “each candidate’s webpage through the [Duval County] Supervisor of Elections website” to ascertain “the candidate’s biographical statement” as well as “a comprehensive list of all their contributors and expenditures” so club members can ask informed questions about who the donors are, why they are giving to the candidates, and what the donors might expect in return for their contributions.
Members are also encouraged to expect the candidates to “clearly express their positions” and provide “unequivocal answers” on hot button issues, including adding “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” as protected classes to the city’s human rights ordinance. Other tough questions such as pension reform, Sheriff’s Office funding, subsidies for professional teams, and downtown development are expected to be discussed.
The at-large races this year are especially interesting. At-Large Group 1 has two major contenders: Republican candidate Anna Brosche and Democratic incumbent Kim Daniels, in a race where both candidates have raised more than $100,000. Group 2 sees Republican David Barron challenging Democrat John Crescimbeni, in a race where the Republican challenger has doubled the incumbent’s fundraising.
Group 3, meanwhile, sees a contest between upstart Democrat Praya “Mincy” Pollock, a lightly funded candidate who is running a resolutely “grassroots” campaign, as he told me Wednesday night, going up against former Democratic Mayor Tommy Hazouri and Republican Geoff Youngblood, who is running a distinctly “values” driven campaign that he has branded heavily around family-centric iconography.
Group 4 looks to be Greg Anderson‘s race to lose, as he goes up against Juanita Powell-Williams. Anderson, at last tally, has more than a 10-to-1 fundraising advantage. Finally, Group 5 sees an interesting contest between Michelle Tappouni, a pro-HRO Republican up against Democrat Ju’Coby Pittman. Both Tappouni and Pittman have raised just shy of $60K at last report; a third candidate in the scrum, Republican Sam Newby, has raised less than $9,000, raising questions about his campaign’s viability.