Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Former Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Hazouri Dies

City Council President Tommy Hazouri
Bob Self
Florida Times-Union file photo

Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri, the former Jacksonville mayor, has died following complications from a lung transplant he had last year. He was 76.  

During his term as mayor from 1987 to 1991, Hazouri was perhaps best known for his effort to eliminate tolls from Jacksonville’s roads and bridges. He also implemented an anti-odor ordinance.

Last year as City Council President, Hazouri was vocal in criticizing the proposed $450 million Lot J sports entertainment complex deal, which had been negotiated between the Jaguars and Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration.

In November, Hazouri critcized the administration’s handling of Lot J,saying, in part, "This is too important of an issue, too complex of an issue for us to just sit here and hurry up and wait for them to make their presentation,” he said.

He wielded the gavel during the contentious debate around the project before the proposal ultimately failed in a 12-7 vote, with Hazouri among the council members to vote against it.

He previously served as a Democrat in the Florida House of Representatives from 1974 to 1986 and chaired the House Committee on K-12 Education, as well as the House Committee on Retirement, Personnel, and Collective Bargaining, according to the city’s website.

Hazouri underwent a lung transplant last summer and was able to return to Council afterward, but his health recently took a turn for the worse and he was admitted to Mayo Clinic and then released into hospice care early this month.

Fellow Councilman Matt Carlucci introduced emergency legislation to rename the Council chambers after Hazouri, which he told WJCT News he hoped Hazouri would get to see pass. But that legislation was expected to be taken up on Tuesday, Sept. 14. 

After Hazouri passed on Saturday, Sept. 11, some of his colleagues shared their remembrances.

Calling him “the incomparable Mr. Tommy Hazouri,” current Council President Sam Newby said in a statement emailed to WJCT News, “Council Member Hazouri’s sharp wit, wisdom and humor will be sorely missed. I pray for us all who knew and loved him.”

Duval Democrats Chair Daniel Henry said, “Words cannot express the deepest gratitude and honor we have for him. Tommy exuded class, integrity, dignity, a fighter spirit, and a love for our city. Duval Dems and the residents of Jacksonville are forever grateful for his dedicated service to our community.”  

And Jacksonville University President Tim Cost said, “Jacksonville University lost a beloved member of our Dolphin family today. Tommy Hazouri was a dear friend, a dynamic leader, and a tireless public servant. He loved Jacksonville, the community where he was born and raised, and he committed his life’s work to improving it. Tommy never met a stranger; his authenticity and warm conversation allowed him to connect with people everywhere he went. He was also a standout student on the Jacksonville University campus, serving as our student body president before graduating in 1966…our Dolphin family will forever remember Tommy Hazouri as a devoted friend and a passionate champion of Jacksonville.”

Hazouri was one of the five at-large members of the 19-member City Council. The city charter says, “A vacancy in the Council shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by election of a council member at a special election to be called pursuant to resolution of the city council and held on a date no sooner than one month and no later than six months after the vacancy occurs.”

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP