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First Coast

Jacksonville Councilman ‘Confident’ In Passage Of Diversity Ordinance

City of Jacksonville

The Jacksonville City Council is set to decide Tuesday whether to bolster the city’s program for ensuring workforce diversity at public agencies.

The proposed update to the “Equal Opportunity” program won the approval of two city council committees last week. But that doesn't mean it has a good chance at final passage.

Bill sponsor Councilman Garrett Dennis has beat back criticism it goes too far or is too vague.

The bill would fund a position within the city’s Human Rights Commission called manager of Equal Opportunity. It would also require city agencies to present demographic reports to city council. It would also give the mayor discretion to convene special boards to strategize about diversifying the city’s workforce. It does not, however, provide for any penalties for agencies that aren’t making progress.

Before budget cuts, Jacksonville had a diversity manager, but some of Dennis’ colleagues are concerned the extra position would be unnecessary because city staff already track demographics.

Even if the bill doesn’t pass, though, Dennis said Mayor Lenny Curry’s staff has signaled he would sign an executive order implementing the requirements anyway.

Past mayors, including John Peyton and John Delaney, have signed orders “reaffirming” their commitments to the city’s equal opportunity ordinance. Dennis said if the bill fails, Mayor Curry has the option to draft a similar reaffirmation ordinance incorporating his bill’s language.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.