More than a quarter of the 19 seats on Jacksonville City Council will be decided in runoff elections on May 14. WJCT News has invited the four candidates for at-large, countywide seats to appear on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross. Democrat Lisa King was first to accept that invitation.
King faces current District 10 City Councilman, Republican Terrance Freeman, in the At Large Group 1 race. Former Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed Freeman to replace indicted Councilman Reggie Brown last year.
King is a Jacksonville native and the former chair of the Duval County Democratic Party. She previously served on the City Planning Commission and last year organized the JEA is Ours campaign aimed at preventing the sale of the city’s utility company.
On First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross on April 4, King said her main platform issues are reducing violent crime, providing people better career opportunities, and making sure JEA stays public.
- Full Interview With King From Wednesday's First Coast Connect With Melissa Ross
- Candidate Debates Set For April 18 In 5 Jacksonville City Council Runoffs
- Voters' Guide
“My experience brings me from a different place that I can provide solutions that have been tried in other parts of our state and a point of view that is quite different from him,” King said in referring to Freeman.
If King wins the runoff, Melissa Ross noted, Mayor Lenny Curry could be denied a supermajority of Republicans on the City Council.
“I’m not really interested in making this a ‘Choose me if you don’t like Mayor Curry’ kind of a thing,” she said. “I’m really more interested in finding solutions that work for everyone and working with the mayor. I just really don’t want to work for him,” she said.
As a professional consultant, King helps cities and counties secure grants from the state and federal government, she said, which helps her understand what it takes to invest in downtown development.
“One of the greatest strengths our downtown has, in addition to its location on the water, is the fact that we have the largest inventory of historic buildings of any downtown in Florida, and so any move to tear down historic buildings I come in from a position of very great concern,” she said. “There are so many buildings that used to be in our downtown that in the ‘60s people regarded as ugly that now we really wish we still had.”
On the topic of The Jacksonville Landing, King said any decision should involve a public conversation about whether to tear it down or repurpose it. She believes it would be a shame to totally remove the Landing.
On the topic of JAXPORT, King said she wants to deepen the St Johns River while acknowledging that the river needs to be protected.
And on economic development, she said the city needs to encourage investors to take advantage of the federal government’s Opportunity Zone program to redevelop Northwest Jacksonville.
Amanda Brannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6317.