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FCC Recap: Jacksonville Voters Support Expanded HRO; Unsure About Candidates

Early voting is underway in Duval County for the Mar. 24 citywide unitary election, and although voters are concerned about issues affecting Jacksonville, many voters are still unfamiliar with the candidates running for office.

A new poll from UNF’s Public Opinion Research Laboratory shows that crime tops the list of concerns among likely voters in Duval County.

Following that voters care about education and the local economy.

The poll also shows strong voter support for expanding Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance.

62 percent of likely voters are in favor of expanding protections to include LGBT people. 27 percent of those polled say they are opposed to the expansion.

University of North Florida Assistant Professor Michael Binder says the number of people who support the expanded ordinance has been ticking upwards over the past couple of years.

"I think it’s just a matter of time. We’re seeing this across the country on a host of issues from same sex marriage on down." Binder said. "Most of the surrounding communities, even Atlantic Beach just passed a Human Rights Ordinance, the clock is ticking and it’s an eventuality."

Binder says support for the HRO expansion could put pressure on the next City Council and mayor to adopt it.

But as early voting gets underway this week, Binder says the majority of the voters don’t have a lot of information about any of the candidates or the races on the ballot.

"We just had a hundreds of millions of dollars race for governor," Binder said. "There’s a rhythm to politics. People want to exhale, and they’re being asked a couple of months later to focus on this again."

Early voting starts today and continues through March 22, the Sunday before Election Day. 

To hear Melissa's entire interview with Michael Binder, listen to today's episode of First Coast Connect or subscribe to First Coast Connect on iTunes.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.