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Dennis: Council Should Have A Stronger Say On Who Is Appointed To JEA's Board

JEA headquarters exterior
Bill Bortzfield
JEA's downtown headquarters is seen in the background with Jacksonville's City Hall in the foreground.

A proposal to let the Jacksonville City Council appoint four of the seven member JEA Board of Directors is slated to be withdrawn from consideration at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Right now, the mayor makes all seven board appointments, which the City Council must then approve.

The bill’s sponsor, District 9 City Councilman Garrett Dennis, said he’s concerned that the current board would give in to what Dennis believes is Mayor Lenny Curry’s desire to sell the city-owned utility.

The mayor went on the record as against a sale in April.

“Unfortunately, a clear and reasonable process to discuss these issues was hijacked by a few special interests and politicians with an agenda to put politics above all else. Fixated on the false choice of 'sell' vs 'don't sell,' they created an environment fostering misinformation and mistrust,” Curry said in April.

There has been speculation in political circles that if Curry wins a second term in office the possibility of selling JEA will be raised again.

Dennis said, it wasn’t until after he filed his measure that the city attorney who helped draft the bill told him the issue needed to go before the voters instead.

He now plans to file another bill asking the City Council to put the question to voters, even though he doesn’t think it will pass.

“I won’t have a lot of support for it but I plan on introducing it so my colleagues will be on record saying whether they support dividing the membership or keeping it all on the mayor’s side,” said Dennis.

Dennis said he will introduce a bill in February asking the City Council to approve a referendum regarding the make-up of the JEA board with the hope of getting the question on the May 14 ballot.

Tuesday’s City Council meeting starts at 5 p.m. at City Hall downtown.

WJCT's Bill Bortzfield contributed to this story.

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter @cydwjctnews.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.