Jackson, Who Sued Gov. Scott Over City Council Appointment, Files To Run For District 10 Seat

Oct 15, 2018

Brenda Priestly Jackson has filed to run for City Council District 10, shortly after asking a judge to reconsider the dismissal of her lawsuit challenging current District 10 Councilman Terrance Freeman’s appointment by Governor Rick Scott.

Jackson, who filed as a Democrat, announced her candidacy on Monday morning via twitter.

Priestly filed her lawsuit in July, shortly after Freeman was appointed by Gov. Scott to replace suspended City Councilman Reginald Brown after he was indicted on various fraud charges, arguing that Scott appointed Freeman before he was officially a resident of District 10.

That was dismissed by Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace III on Wednesday, September 26.

Jackson said she filed a motion for reconsideration on Wednesday, October 10. “So we are definitely still challenging the legality, under our charter, of Terrance Freeman’s appointment,” she said.

“As my attorneys proved in the first case, it’s a frivolous lawsuit,” Freeman told WJCT News. “It is a burden that’s being placed on our taxpayers, when it comes to the cost of it, and I’m confident that the verdict will still be the same.”

In an interview with WJCT, Jackson said she had been planning to run for the District 10 seat for the past six months.

“I had talked with people I respect in the community, family, elders, faith based leaders and others, and was mulling the opportunity to get back into public service by running for the city council,” she said. “And a large part of that was because I originally got off the school board in 2010, and although we were not term limited, I made the decision that my younger kids, the younger two kind of needed some uninterrupted mommy time because they were literally one-and-a-half and five when I got on the school board. And so at this time, our youngest, the last of four, is a senior and heading off to college next year. So I thought it might be a good opportunity for me to give voice to some concerns and a vision for District 10 and perhaps run again.”

Jackson had previously filed to run for the seat after former Councilman Reggie Brown was indicted and before Freeman was appointed by Gov. Scott.

Jackson gave a rough outline of her campaign platform: “We want to focus on education, which has always been a lynchpin. Economic development, which means jobs and opportunities in District 10. And then the other thing is quality of life issues. Quality of life relates to everything from following through on the promises of consolidation, whether it’s the removal of septic tanks or making certain that we have infrastructure that was promised, to dealing with any issues relative to crime and other issues in the community.”

Freeman says it’s still too early for him to decide whether or not he’s going to run to retain his seat. Right now he says he wants to stay focused on trying to get things done for his constituents. “That is consuming all of my effort, my energy, my time, my focus,” he said. “Knowing that I have several months before I have to declare and make a decision gives me the leeway to continue to not be distracted and to be focused on the people of District 10.”

Qualification for candidacy is January 7 - 11, 2019.

Jackson is one of 11 candidates who have filed to run for the District 10 seat at the time of this story’s publication. Although she doesn’t know any of those other candidates, Jackson said she’s thrilled to see so many people throwing their hat in the race.

The election will be held on March 19. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote getters will face each other in the May 14 general election.

“I think it’s beautiful, I really do,” she said. “I think that District 10 has an opportunity to pick from a rich platform of candidates. The more people in the better. I have found out that when you have a healthy level of competition in political races it makes every candidate be more open and responsive to the needs of the community, and the community benefits from that.”

Freeman, who describes himself as a proud conservative, says he thinks it’s vital that everyone votes in the upcoming November midterm election and in the unitary general election in March.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.