Ed Austin

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Ed Austin
EdAustin.JPG
Mayor of Jacksonville
In office
July 1, 1991 – July 1, 1995
Preceded by Tommy Hazouri
Succeeded by John Delaney
State Attorney,
Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida
In office
1974–1991
Preceded by Don Nichols
Succeeded by Harry Shorstein
Personal details
Born July 15, 1926
Shenandoah, Virginia
Died April 23, 2011(2011-04-23) (aged 84)
Jacksonville, Florida
Political party Democrat then Republican
Spouse(s) Patricia Ann Lynch (deceased)
Connie Green (divorced)
Alma mater Duke University
University of Florida
Religion Episcopalian[1]

T. Edward "Ed" Austin, Jr. (July 15, 1926 – April 23, 2011) was an American politician and attorney. He served as mayor of Jacksonville, Florida from 1991 to 1995. He also served as the first Public Defender for Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit from 1963 to 1968, and served as State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit from 1969 to 1972 and again from 1974 to 1991. Austin was a Democrat for most of his career, but switched parties to become a Republican during his term as mayor, becoming the first Republican to serve in the position since the Reconstruction era.

Early life[edit]

Austin was born in Shenandoah, Virginia. In 1944 he enrolled at Duke University, where he played college football as a tight end and ran track for the Duke Blue Devils. He earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree while at Duke, and was subsequently employed as a teacher. He later joined the United States Army, where he served in the 101st Airborne Division as a paratrooper.[2]

Austin was hospitalized with a back injury; in the hospital he met his future wife, Patricia Lynch, an Army social worker.[1] In 1957 he was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant, and relocated to attend law school at the University of Florida.[2]

Career[edit]

Austin received a juris doctor from the UF College of Law in 1958, and was admitted to the Florida Bar on November 6, 1959.[3] He worked in several legal positions, including a stint as Duval County's assistant solicitor. In 1963 he was appointed by Governor Farris Bryant[1] as the first Public Defender for Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit, which consists of Duval, Nassau, and Clay Counties. In 1969 he was elected State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Jacksonville Mayor Hans Tanzler appointed Austin to serve as the city's General Counsel in 1972, but he returned to the State Attorney position in 1974 and was re-elected four times.[2][4]

In 1991 Austin resigned his position as State Attorney to run against incumbent mayor Tommy Hazouri, and won the election narrowly. His most lasting contribution as mayor is his River City Renaissance program, which funded urban renewal and revamped the city's historic downtown neighborhoods. Among the buildings constructed or renovated by the program are the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, the Sulzbacher Center, the stadium now known as EverBank Field, and the Jacksonville Zoo. Austin oversaw the city's purchase and refurbishing of the St. James Building, which would eventually become Jacksonville's new city hall. He was mayor at the time Jacksonville was awarded its National Football League franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars.[2] His support was instrumental in the founding of the Jacksonville Children's Commission and growth of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.[5]

During his term as mayor he switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican; according to his chief of staff John Delaney, he told his staff before leaving on a trip to China that he had become so disenchanted with the Democrats that he did not want to die as one if his plane crashed.[2] In 1994 he announced he would not seek a second term as mayor. In the subsequent election he backed Delaney, who defeated former mayor Jake Godbold to become the next mayor of Jacksonville.

Austin was an imposing figure, a "strapping John Wayne-kind of guy", according to Delaney, who first worked for Austin as an intern in the early 1980s.[2] His staff considered him a fair man with integrity and character who motivated his co-workers and mentored those he hired.[2] Numerous individuals Austin hired and mentored went on to leadership positions in Jacksonville and the state of Florida, including Delaney, currently President of the University of North Florida; former Chief Justice Leander Shaw of the Florida Supreme Court, former general counsel Rick Mullaney, state Representative Mike Weinstein, Circuit Judge Brian Davis, Sulzbacher Center President Audrey Moran, and Chief Administrator Lex Hester.[2][6][7]

Personal life[edit]

Austin and his wife had three children and several grandchildren. His wife of 39 years, Patricia, died in a car accident near St. Augustine in 1996; he was a passenger and was also injured, but recovered. In 2003, he married Connie Green; they divorced in 2006. The Ed Austin Regional Park in Arlington was dedicated in 2005,[8] and a $150,000 endowed scholarship was established at the University of North Florida during 2008 in his honor.[9]

Austin was recovering from heart surgery several weeks prior, but had not experienced complications. He died in his sleep on April 23, 2011.[2][7] At his funeral on April 28, the casket was carried by an honor guard members from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. Samuel Johnson Howard, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida delivered a eulogy; current Mayor John Peyton and former mayors Jake Godbold, Tommy Hazouri and John Delaney attended the service.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "T. Edward Austin" Florida Times-Union, April 27, 2011
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mary Kelli Palka (April 23, 2011). "Former Jacksonville mayor Ed Austin preached fairness, justice". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  3. ^ "T Edward Austin, Jr." Florida Bar website, Find a Lawyer
  4. ^ http://www.flacls.org/goldin-archive/goldin-1991.html
  5. ^ a b Patton, Charlie: "Former Mayor Ed Austin remembered for 'uncanny moral compass' Florida Times-Union, April 28, 2011
  6. ^ Landeros, Monica: "Former Jacksonville Mayor Ed Austin was 'Caring Mentor', 'True Statesman'" First Coast News, April 24, 2011
  7. ^ a b "Ed Austin Honored As 'True Statesman'" WJXT channel 4, April 24, 2011
  8. ^ "Ed Austin Regional Park History" City of Jacksonville, Parks & Recreation
  9. ^ "UNF Fellowship Honors Former Mayor Ed Austin" University of North Florida press release, May 14, 2008

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
new position
Public Defender,
4th Judicial Circuit

1963–1968
Succeeded by
Lou Frost
Preceded by
William Hallowes
State Attorney,
4th Judicial Circuit

1969–1972
Succeeded by
Don Nichols
Preceded by
Don Nichols
State Attorney,
4th Judicial Circuit

1974–1991
Succeeded by
Harry L. Shorstein
Political offices
Preceded by
Tommy Hazouri
Mayor of Jacksonville
1991–1995
Succeeded by
John Delaney