Mayor Lenny Curry celebrated a year since he was sworn into office Friday with a walk and lunch with residents in a Northwest Jacksonville neighborhood.
Protesters critical of the mayor’s response to police-involved shootings also showed up to meet him.
At Curry’s inauguration last year, Jacksonville was introduced to Curry’s slogan ”One City, One Jacksonville.”
That day, he highlighted areas he wanted to help improve.
”Our city has faced, over the last few years, a spike in violent crime and murder,” he said. “The city’s finances have not honored the hardworking taxpayers. We face unfunded pension liabilities that could cripple our city.”
One year later, he said he’s addressing those problems. He’s worked with Sheriff Mike Williams to add additional police officers and overtime hours. In August, voters will decide whether to extend a 1/2-cent sales tax to pay off $2.6 billion of pension debt.
“I’m not here today to celebrate,” Curry said Friday. “I’m here today to say that it’s been a year of hard work and action and will continue to be a year of hard work and action.”
During Curry’s first year in office he held three community conversations surrounding whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protections should be added to the city’s human rights ordinance.
In January, Curry issued a city order prohibiting discrimination against the hiring of LGBT city employees, but said updating the HRO wouldn't be “prudent.”
“I have done formal community conversations and engaged in the community informally. There are a number of walks that I do where there are no press announcements and cameras so I can get feedback,” he said. “I’ve taken that feedback and I’ve made decisions.”
He spent his anniversary walking a Northwest Jacksonville neighborhood near the Fairfax neighborhood, playing basketball with kids at Grunthal Park. He said these walks are helping him develop relationships with the community.
Among the walkers was human rights activist, Diallo Sekou. He’s part of the Kemetic Empire, the group known for shutting down the Hart bridge two years ago and holding protests over police-involved shootings. He said he wanted to see what the walk was all about and meet Curry.
“Walks are great,” he said. “It’s the legislation. It’s the preventative measures. It’s creating economic security for the poor and depressed in the city. Those are the only things I’m concerned with. I liked the walk. I got a chance to actually meet him for the first time.”
Sekou said Curry agreed to meet with him one on one to talk about what he’s doing to help poorer areas of the city.