With the midterm elections just behind us, Jacksonville's city election is already heating up ahead of next spring.
For one, Atlantic Beach Republican Jimmy Hill officially launched his campaign Tuesday to challenge incumbent Republican Mayor Lenny Curry.
The mayor, Hill said, is not adequately addressing crime and is making back door businesses deals.
Hill, who previously served on the Atlantic Beach City Council, said running for the Jacksonville City Council was out of the question for him.
“We uniquely have a form of government where good leadership can do great things and bad leadership can do really bad things because of the power that position [mayor] wields.” He said, “And I think I can do a better job. And I think I am better suited than the person that’s doing it today.”
One of Hill’s top policy priorities is opposing the sale of the JEA. Hill says he’s concerned about what he sees as a lack of transparency, citing the selection process currently underway for JEA’s next CEO.
”All of government’s business absolutely has to in the light of day,” he said. “It has to be under the light of public scrutiny and that is not happening now. It is not the way business is happening.”
Hill said that he is running in part because his own business was negatively affected by the Curry administration.
Last year, after 21 years of organizing the Southeast U.S. Boat Show, Hill had to cancel his event after being unable to secure Metropolitan Park. He claimed the city denied him access to the venue for what he believes were political reasons.
“It was literally crushed. It was strategically and clearly taken off the map through the power that a government has by people in the administration of Jacksonville. Apparently because we recognized metro park was being taken from the citizens without taking the proper process,” he said.
City officials maintained the reason for the denial was because of an outstanding fee from the previous year.
So far, Hill is the only candidate who has launched an official campaign, but there has been speculation that Council members Garrett Dennis and Anna Brosche - Democrat and Republican, respectively - might also vye for the seat.
In a May interview with First Coast Connect, Brosche said she was open to the idea of running for Mayor, but did not commit.
To appear on the ballot, mayoral candidates can pay a filing fee or get 6,000 petition signatures by December 10. That’s the method Hill is attempting.
The qualifying period for the city elections is in January.