Jacksonville City Council
The Jacksonville City Council is composed of nineteen members who are elected for a four-year term and serve as part-time legislators. In May of each year, the Council elects a President and Vice President to serve one-year terms beginning the first of July.
The nineteen members are not all elected in the same manner; some are elected from districts, and others are elected at large. However, once elected, there is no distinction between council members elected at-large and from regular districts. Both have equal rights and responsibilities.
The city is divided into 14 districts; each of these districts elects a single council member who resides in the district. Like virtually all legislative districts at all levels in United States, these districts are redrawn every ten years following the decennial census. In Jacksonville, since reapportionment of the 1990s, four of these districts have been gerrymandered to increase the likelihood of electing an African-American council person.
In the early 1990s, voters approved an unusual residency requirement for "at-large" members. The county was divided into five special districts unrelated to any other districts, solely for the purpose of providing better representation for all geographical areas of Jacksonville. This was done because a trend had developed in which all five "at large" councilmembers actually resided in one small area of town. So under the current structure, at-large council members must reside in the special district for which they are running, but are elected by the voters of the county as a whole.
One at-large seat was vacated in 2007 because of a violation of this residency requirement; "Jay" Jabour was elected as the at-large councilman from the 2nd special district, but evidence later arose indicating that he actually lived in the 3rd special district. A judge subsequently invalidated the election, and the seat became vacant.
Currently the council has six Democrats and thirteen Republicans serving.
The Council President assigns members to committees and to act as council liaisons.
There are five standing committees:
- Land Use & Zoning
- Recreation, Community Development, Public Health & Safety
- Transportation, Energy & Utilities
There are two special committees:
- Seaport & Airport
There are three council boards & commissions:
- Duval County Tourist Development Council
- Jacksonville Waterways Commission
- Value Adjustment Board
Awards and criticism
The Charles D. Webb Award is given annually by outgoing council President for the most effective councilman, i.e. most helpful to the council and constituents. After the 1988 death of Claude Yates, known as the father of Jacksonville’s consolidation, the Jacksonville City Council created the Claude J. Yates Outstanding Councilman of the Year Award, which is bestowed annually to an exemplary council member. The council created the John E. Goode Award for best council debater in 1997. The Mary L. Singleton Award is given to the member with the most difficult committee assignment during the year.
In late 2007, a Grand Jury announced that it would probe alleged Sunshine Law violations by the Jacksonville City Council. While the Grand Jury found numerous instances of violation of the law, they decided against issuing any indictments when they issued their final report in January 2008.
In January 2010, District 13 Council member John Meserve was suspended by Florida Governor Charlie Crist after being charged with conducting real estate transactions without a license. Art Graham, who resigned the seat in 2009 to unsuccessfully run for state senate, was appointed by the governor on February 12, 2010 to replace John Meserve, who is fighting a felony charge.
City Council members
|5||Lori N. Boyer||Republican|
|8||E. Denise Lee||Democrat|
|9||Warren A. Jones||Democrat|
|10||Reginald L. Brown||Democrat|
|At-Large||City Council Members|
|Group 1||Kimberly Daniels||Democrat|
|Group 2||John R. Crescimbeni||Democrat|
|Group 3||Stephen C. Joost||Republican|
|Group 4||Greg Anderson||Republican|
|Group 5||Robin Lumb||Republican|
- Florida Times-Union: February 22, 2008-Court rules Jabour's seat invalidated
- City of Jacksonville website: City Council-Council Committees, Boards and Commissions
- Florida Times-Union: July 5, 1997-Mayor Delaney seeking 'housing czar'
- Florida Times-Union: January 18, 2008-Grand Jury Issues Report
- jacksonville.com: January 19, 2010
- Mitchell, Tia: "Graham appointed to vacant Jacksonville City Council seat" Florida Times-Union, February 13, 2010
- "City of Jacksonville Official Website". City of Jacksonville. Retrieved 2011-09-24.