The Jacksonville City Council confirmed the appointment of a new member of the city’s Human Rights Commission.
Peret Pass is a Republican political consultant who worked for Congressman John Rutherford’s campaign.
The commissioner she’s replacing said he doesn’t understand why he’s being asked to step down.
In an emailed statement, Mayor Lenny Curry’s spokeswoman Marsha Oliver wrote:
“All board appointments the mayor makes are determined with great thought, research, and collaboration. The Jacksonville Human Rights Commission is no exception. Mayor Curry has recommended a competent and respected business owner to replace a member whose term has expired,” Oliver wrote.
Nathan Rousseau said he wasn’t even aware Curry intended to swap him out for someone else.
“There are professional ways of handling the end of one’s service, and I think that if this is standard practice — the way the situation was handled with me — they can do a lot better,” he said.
Rousseau had meetings with the mayor’s senior staff on behalf of five JEA employees who filed federal racial discrimination complaints against the community-owned utility. He said he suspects his replacement has to do with his involvement in their case and outspokenness in the press.
“My term was over, but quite frankly many of the people who are still sitting — they’re terms are over as well,” he said. “So, it would almost seem like a decision was made to have me replaced for whatever reason. No one has ever told me.”
Rousseau is being replaced, even though around half the seats on the 20-person commission are vacant.
If a commissioner’s term ends, as Rousseau’s did two years ago, the mayor can choose to reappoint or replace him. If he doesn't take any action, commissioners are free to keep serving past their terms’ expiration.