Duval Democrats React to RNC Cancelation


JACKSONVILLE, FL — The Duval County Democratic Party released the following response to President Trump's cancellation of the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville.

"President Trump has finally listened to science and conventional wisdom to cancel the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville. Our local party membership came together, held a press conference, sent letters, sent emails, made social media posts, and sounded every alarm we could – all to urge our elected officials to say NO to this convention.

"However, Governor Ron DeSantis and Mayor Lenny Curry rejected our calls. It’s sad that the leaders who created this potential crisis didn’t have the leadership in our city and state to put a stop to the convention weeks ago.

"Tonight's news is a victory not just for Floridians or Democrats – but for the people of Jacksonville as a whole. We stood for our city, our families, and our children. At the end of the day that is what’s most important.

"Now is the time for leadership to come together to do what we must to make this same effort to defeat COVID-19.

"Our focus as a party returns to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to vote in the upcoming elections and turning Duval Blue this November."

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Duval County Democrats Welcome Issuance of Face Mask


JACKSONVILLE, FL — With more than 2,572 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in Northeast Florida, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has issued a county-wide face mask order.

"I'm glad the Mayor took our advice and the advice of the majority of people in Jacksonville to keep us safe", said Duval Democratic Party Chair Daniel Henry, "Now, as the RNC brings an influx of people here, there is even more to do.”

Henry, with the full support of the executive committee, sent a letter to the Mayor last week urging him to issue a mask wearing order. 

State Representative Tracie Davis (D-13), who has also been opposed to the Republican National Convention being held in Jacksonville this summer applauded the decision. 

"We are living in unprecedented times. It takes all levels of government working across party lines to keep people safe and healthy", said Davis. 

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Duval County Democrats Ask For Face Mask Order To Keep Citizens Safe

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Today, as the US hits a new high of 36,000 coronavirus cases, and the President cuts Federal funding for COVID 19 testing, the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee once again calls on Mayor Curry to ensure that attendees to the Republican National Convention in August wear face masks as recommended by the CDC, and Florida State Surgeon General.

On June 20, Florida State Surgeon General Rivkees recommended that people maintain a distance of at least six feet from each other and wear a face covering.” Far from being “group think,” scientific evidence supports the use of face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Dr. Antony Fauci reiterated this advice in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 23.

Duval County does not currently require anyone to wear a mask. Other major metropolitan counties in Florida, Orange, Hillsborough, Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade do. The RNC moved the convention from North Carolina to Jacksonville precisely because of the lack of a mask requirement

Citizens of Jacksonville, are very concerned about rising cases of COVID-19. A majority of Duval County residents polled by the University of North Florida oppose the RNC Convention coming to Duval County, largely due to concerns about COVID-19. 

The rising spread of COVID-19 is bad for the health of our citizens and bad for our economy. Businesses cannot stay open and people cannot go to work when COVID-19 is spreading unchecked. 

Yesterday, the Democratic National Committee announced a scaled-back convention amid the coronavirus pandemic. State delegations are being asked not to attend in person and several portions of the convention will be virtual.

We call on the Mayor to immediately enact an executive order requiring masks to be worn by anyone in public. Additionally, the mandatory enactment of other forms of social distancing at all businesses, events, and public events, including the RNC Convention in August. 

Tarsha Watts, a registered Democrat in Jacksonville is like many families on the First Coast. She is trying to keep her family safe while wondering when will life get back to normal after COVID-19.

“I believe that had we been more vigilant and worked to keep others safe, my brother and others like him would still be alive today”, said Watts.

Her brother, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus died in April.

“I can’t believe that we have to beg our leaders to do the right thing so that we can all stay safe”.

This week in a news conference, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, declined to issue a mandate for the public to wear masks.

“I do not think that’s a prudent action to take”, said the Mayor.

“This is absolutely absurd”, said Duval County Democratic Executive Committee (DCDEC) Chair Daniel Henry.

“This is about responsible public health. It’s not about politics. This is about science. Our government has a duty to help even those that don’t know they need help”.

Henry, and the DCDEC have sent a letter to the Mayor urging him to rethink his decision not to mandate mask wearing in public places.

“We have started, calling, emailing, and using any other methods we can to urge the mayor to do his job to keep this city safe. 

Currently, Florida has one of the highest COVID-19 cases in the country with 123,000 confirmed cases.
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Duval County Democrats Oppose Bringing the RNC to Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, FL - On the same day that the single-day highest number of COVID-19 cases were reported in Florida, the Republican National Committee announced a major part of the National Convention will head to Jacksonville.

According to the Florida Department of Health, the state is now on an upswing of Corona-Virus cases with nearly 70,000 total cases being reported.

Both Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Governor Ron DeSantis had been publicly wooing the convention to the city.

“This is decision is reckless and irresponsible”, said Duval County Democratic Party Chair, Daniel Henry. “The Center for Disease Control has consistently warned people against large gatherings. Yet our local political leadership chose to put partisanship over citizenship and their sworn duty to keep this city safe.

Henry and local party leaders have met several times over the past few days. The group unanimously opposed the decision to bring the convention to Jacksonville.

“Now more than ever we will continue our efforts to mobilize voters in Jacksonville to make sure that Democrats are empowered, energized, and ready to go to the polls,” said Henry.

The Republican National Committee decided to move its convention from Charlotte, North Carolina because of President Trump’s insistence on a full convention, with no face masks or social distancing. To-date, Mayor Curry remains silent on whether he has acquiesced to the same demands.
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Duval Dems and the Northside Coalition Demand Answers on Early Vote Site Closures

Questions Have Gone Unanswered for Two-Weeks

JACKSONVILLE, FL, Feb. 3, 2020 — The Duval County Democratic Executive Committee and the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville released the following statement in response to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections decision to close Early Voting sites on college campuses:

“The Duval County Democratic Executive Committee calls for transparency from the Supervisor of Elections regarding his decision to close early voting sites at the University of North Florida and Edward Waters College during the Presidential Preference Primary. Supervisor Hogan's decision deviates from the seven other counties that chosen to keep college campus early voting site open across the state: Alachua, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Palm Beach.

The Supervisor of Elections has cited past low performance as the reasoning for closing these sites. However, no additional information as been released on the multiple mitigating factors that should have been considered before the closures: Depressed turnout in underserved communities, voting access for college students, inconsistent access to voters, and on-site notification of closures.

We request that the Supervisor publicly release all pubic records and data that was used to close these early vote sites. We also ask that signage be placed at closed sites directing students and local residents to the nearest early voting location. Encouraging participation in democracy by voting is the foundation of our government. The Supervisor of Elections should work to make it easier, not harder, for citizens to vote.”


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"Violence is Never the Answer"

Duval Dems Condemn Attack on Duval GOP

JACKSONVILLE, FL, FEB. 08, 2020 — The Duval County Democratic Executive Committee released the following statement in response to the February 8th incident where a van plowed through a Duval GOP voter registration tent, narrowly missing volunteers:

"The Duval County Democratic Party condemns this cowardly act of violence. No one’s life should be placed in danger for exercising their first amendment rights. As Democrats, but more importantly, as residents of this great city of Jacksonville, we call on our fellow citizens to act with dignity, civility and respect for one another during this election cycle and beyond. We look forward to JSO’s arrest of the perpetrator."


Duval Dems Welcome the Termination of Zahn


Mayor Curry and the JEA Board are ultimately responsible for Zahn’s actions

JACKSONVILLE, FL, Jan. 29, 2020 — The Duval County Democratic Executive Committee released the following statement in response to the JEA Board’s termination of ex-CEO Aaron Zahn and the board’s collective resignation.

"The Duval County Democratic Party welcomes the decision of the JEA Board to terminate ex-CEO Aaron Zahn with cause. This action denies him a tax-payer funded golden parachute, valued at over $800k and concludes his continued mismanagement of the utility.

“Ultimately, the JEA Board and Mayor Leonard Curry are responsible for appointing, promoting and retaining an unqualified showman to run a multi-billion dollar utility. Both the Mayor and JEA Board have a duty to ensure good governance at the utility. The Office of General Counsel reported twenty-four (24) findings of misconduct, gross negligence, and breach of fiduciary obligations by Aaron Zahn. These shocking findings justify the concerns many community leaders expressed in hiring the unqualified personal friend of the Mayor for such a position.

“The JEA Board has taken responsibility for their error in judgment and have collectively resigned their positions. Their lack of credibility leaves them unable to effectively govern the utility. It is now time for the Mayor to stand to account and take responsibility for his actions in this continuing JEA debacle. It was Mayor Curry who appointed Zahn to the JEA Board, supported his elevation to CEO, defended his lack of experience to the city council, and vouched for Zahn’s judgment to the public. Now with reports that Zahn, an independent authority CEO, frequented City Hall over 90 times in the last year, Jacksonville taxpayers deserve to know the full extent of Mayor Curry’s involvement in questionable actions taken by Mr. Zahn during his tenure.  The people deserve to know if Zahn’s corrupt actions had the Mayor’s blessing or were made at the Mayor’s direction.

“This fiasco shows the risk of having the entire JEA board appointed solely by the Mayor without additional input by City Council. That is why we support efforts to change the current method, such as the bill proposed by Councilman Garrett Dennis to require three members of the seven-person JEA board to be appointed by the City Council. This would allow more input from the City Council, and cause independent agencies to truly be independent in more than name only.

“The Duval County Democratic Party has never wavered in our opposition to the sale of JEA, which was clearly against the best interests of rate-payers and the dedicated front-line JEA workers who are ably represented by the IBEW union. We hope all decision-makers in the City will not soon forget the circumstances around this sale debacle and we can forever put to rest any notion to sell our electric and water utility.”


Duval Dems Support the Creation of Special Investigatory Committee

Duval Dems Support the Creation of Special Investigatory Committee

Committee will investigate the failed attempted sale of JEA

"Duval Dems stand in support Council President Scott Wilson’s decision to appoint a Special Investigatory Committee to look into the failed attempted sale of JEA. Ratepayers deserve to learn the truth about JEA’s secretive sales talks, its illegal performance incentive plan, and the outside players who pushed the sale.

For two years we’ve continued to state our unequivocal opposition to a proposed sale and now it is our hope this new special committee will uncover what lies beneath this debacle. 

Our very own Councilwoman Brenda Priestly Jackson will be a member of the committee and will bring her long and consistent advocacy to protect one of our city’s greatest public assets. We look forward to an open and transparent committee process and the results of their investigation."


Federal Investigation into JEA

"Duval Dems welcome the news that State Attorney Melissa Nelson has referred her JEA investigation to federal authorities. From the beginning, we’ve called for this action and we look forward to the results of the federal investigation into the proposed sale of JEA."


State Attorney Melissa Nelson Should Recuse Herself


 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County Democratic Party calls on State Attorney Melissa Nelson to recuse herself and requests Governor DeSantis appoint a state attorney of another judicial circuit to investigate matters regarding the sale of JEA. Recent news reports have revealed that Political Strategist Tim Baker attended and provided material support in multiple meetings involving the sale. The integrity of the ongoing investigation could be compromised if handled by Nelson's office because Baker played an integral role in her successful 2016 campaign and could consult for Nelson in her upcoming re-election bid. Earlier this year, Nelson requested that DeSantis recuse her in the Matt Shirk grand jury investigation, to avoid [in her words] the "appearance of impropriety". The public investigation of alleged corruption in the proposed sale of JEA requires no less than an equivalent ethical standard.

The pursuit of the privatization of JEA has been fraught from the beginning. City and JEA officials have not been straightforward with the citizens of Jacksonville regarding the intention to sell the utility nor the reasons for the sale. JEA officials warned the board of massive rate hikes and layoffs if the sale was not pursued, but these claims were later called into question by the Civic Council and remain unverified. There are already state ethics investigations into conflicts of interest with JEA negotiators and retention bonuses they could receive if JEA is sold. The Curry administration ignored the city’s Ethics Director who advised that sunshine laws were being violated and recommended that sales talks be canceled

These concerns, however, pale in comparison to the proposed Long-Term Performance Unit Plan, which led to the termination of JEA CEO Aaron Zahn, an ally of the mayor. Curry’s political consultant Tim Baker attended multiple closed-door meetings at JEA at Zahn’s request, ostensibly to offer political advice on the sales process. Multiple high-level officials at JEA have resigned or been terminated in the wake of the failed sales attempt and performance pay scheme plan. Any investigation into the sale and associated pay scheme must determine the full extent of Baker’s involvement and whether further ethical or legal violations occurred.

The entire JEA privatization process, from start to its inglorious finish, requires an objective and fair investigation. From allegations of violations of state sunshine laws to concerns of corruption in the performance pay scheme, the people of Jacksonville deserve an uncompromised accounting of what city leaders are doing with their tax dollars. The Duval County Democratic Party calls on State Attorney Melissa Nelson to recuse herself to avoid any conflict of interest in this critical investigation into the attempted sale of JEA, the associated allegations of sunshine law violations and self-dealing.

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