Jacksonville At-Large Group 4 City Councilman Matt Carlucci is calling for the city’s Chief Administrative Officer to step down.
In an email to local journalists, Carlucci described Brian Hughes as a “troublesome liability to the mayor’s office” and an impediment to the city’s future.
“I think Brian is more of a political creature,” Carlucci said in an interview Thursday with WJCT News. “I don’t think he’s one who likes to collaborate — he likes to control. And councilmembers like to collaborate, they like to try to find common ground. They like to be respected if they differ with the mayor’s office on something without having a project threatened. So these are some of the impediments to keeping our city from moving ahead.”
City Councilman Matt Schellenberg complained last year that Hughes threatened to delay projects in his Mandarin district after Schellenberg criticized a plan to redevelop the half-built Berkman 2 riverfront property downtown, as WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reported.
Carlucci said he also took issue with the way Hughes pushed forward The Jacksonville Landing’s destruction rather than opening up a new discussion about its possible reuse last year.
In a WJCT News interview with Hughes about the Landing's future in April, he said, “To get public input is genuinely unnecessary because we’ve been there and done that.”
Thursday Carlucci said, “When you go talk to somebody and they shoot you down real quick with a no – because, you know councilmembers need the help of the mayor's administration, and I served with three different mayors and worked closely with two others, and they were always can-do mayors – and I think this is hurting the mayor. And he might want to look at a different chief administrative officer.”
And though he’s been one of the mayor’s administration’s most outspoken critics, Carlucci waved off the possibility of running for mayor himself.
“I'm not looking to run for mayor. You know, those days of ambition— I love my city. I'm trying to protect my city. So many times I go Downtown and I feel like I'm just trying to protect my city. And I want to see my city start moving again,” Carlucci said.
In a statement emailed to WJCT News, Mayor Lenny Curry defended Hughes:
Brian Hughes serves the City of Jacksonville faithfully and dutifully. I selected him as Chief of Staff in January of 2018 because of his valued and wide-ranging experience, as well as his commitment to the people of Jacksonville. When I promoted him to Chief Administrative Officer in June 2019, it was because of progress and advancement in our city, attributed to his effective leadership and collaborative relationships. Jacksonville is Brian’s home and he has a vested and passionate interest in making this city the best it can be for all who live here.