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Democrat Donna Deegan running for Jacksonville mayor

Donna Deegan announced her candidacy for Jacksonville mayor on WJCT's First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Tuesday, Nov. 9.
Heather Schatz, WJCT News
Donna Deegan announced her candidacy for Jacksonville mayor on WJCT's First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Tuesday, Nov. 9.

Former congressional candidate and TV news anchor Donna Deegan is officially running to be Jacksonville mayor.

Deegan announced her candidacy Tuesday on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross. She aims to be the first woman to hold the office.

“I think, Melissa, at the end of the day, it felt like the way to make make the most impact in our community. I'm running for mayor really for many of the same reasons that I ran for Congress because I love Jacksonville and I think we can do better," she said.

Deegan is currently the only Democrat in the race, but that can change with the deadline to file over a year away.

The first election will be held in March 2023. If no candidates reach 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will then move on to a final election in May.

Other confirmed candidates in the race include council members Matt Carlucci and Al Ferraro, both Republicans.

In response to Deegan's announcement, Dean Black, chairman of the Duval County Republican Party, released this statement: "Only one year removed from her disastrous run for Congress, failed politician Donna Deegan clearly views the Office of Mayor as a consolation prize. Deegan is easily the most liberal candidate for Mayor in our history: anti-police, pro-taxes, and radical values.

Being a far-left activist and commentator does not qualify you to lead the largest city in Florida. The people of Jacksonville deserve a real mayor — not one who plays one on TV."

Deegan responded to the attack during her appearance on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, dismissing Black's assessment of her congressional run and motives for pursuing the mayorship.

"I will tell you here with with great confidence. This is not any sort of a consolation prize or stepping stone or anything for me, this will be the last office for which I run," she said.

Deegan's campaign has three pillars: infrastructure investment, health care access, and economic opportunity.

Deegan says she wants to capitalize on the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill recently passed by Congress to fix the city's sewage and septic tank issues and address neglect in Downtown neighborhoods.

On health care, Deegan said Jacksonville is falling far behind its state counterparts and should create city-wide department to aggregate health services that leverages local nonprofits to meet the needs of residents.

"Jacksonville is the only major metropolitan area in Florida that has — just, really we're in the bottom half of health outcomes. We have decimated funding for public health," she said. " Over the past 15-20 years in health care funding for the city we've lost hundreds of positions because everything's been centralized to Tallahassee and we've lost $30 million that we used to spend on local health care."

Deegan also criticized the failed Lot J project that the mayor's administration had negotiated with Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

"It seems like everything goes to the to the to the big companies, the big developers. And look, I am not in any way opposed to providing incentives for companies to come here... But frankly, as far as small businesses are concerned, we need to make sure that that they have the resources they need. There are all sorts of local, state and federal grants that are available that we don't even talk to small businesses about in this city very often."

According to Deegan, the city prioritizes big, "shiny" projects too much, and often overpays at the expense of the taxpayers for things that don't materialize.

"I don't see why we can't have some of both," Deegan said, promising to invest in fighting pollution and beautifying the riverfront and providing park space.

Watch the stream of Tuesday's show here.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.