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Jax City Council Approves New Location For Duval County Supervisor Of Elections Offices

One Imeson

The Jacksonville City Council has voted to move the Duval County Election Center and warehouse to Imeson Road.

The council approved a ten-year lease agreement on the new building, located off Main Street north of the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

The vote comes despite calls from Congresswoman Corrine Brown, the Alvin Brown administration, and several prominent African-American ministers to keep the offices at their current location in Gateway Town Center.

The vote ends a 17 month saga that began when Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland asked the city to build a new location for the center in LaVilla.

Following inaction by the mayor's office, which typically handles the development of city buildings through a request for proposals, the decision was left to the council.  It turned into a process of open bidding for the lease agreement with several proposals being frequently amended by potential landlords to match the dueling offers.

Credit Kevin Meerschaert
U.S. Representative Corrine Brown addresses the Jacksonville City Council.

Rep. Brown, D-Jacksonville, told the council prior to the vote that moving out of Gateway was nothing more than an attempt to suppress the African-American vote in the area, noting that the Gateway location was also used for early voting and as an absentee ballot drop-off. 

Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland responded that the Gateway location, or a nearby city owned building about a half-mile away, could remain in use for early voting.

Mayor Alvin Brown's Chief of Staff Chris Hand said the administration still supports remaining at Gateway, but declined to say if the legislation would be vetoed.

The ordinance passed on a 13-6 vote, voiding the veto threat due to a likely override.

Despite this latest disagreement between the mayor's office and the council, following the rejection of pension reform being tentative millage rate increase, Hand says he doesn't believe the council and administration have a relationship problem, since most of Mayor Brown's major initiatives were approved.

The relocation of the elections offices into the Imeson location is expected to be completed by October.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.