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New fight for SOE office at Gateway

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Updated: 8/27/2013 8:09 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Taxpayers will soon see savings after the supervisor of elections warehouse moves from the Gateway Shopping Center to another location.

Jacksonville's City Council voted two weeks ago to move the warehouse site currently on the Northside to One Imeson, which was favored by the Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland.

Mayor Alvin Brown supported keeping the warehouse at the current location but under a new lease. Brown Tuesday issued a resolution stating he would neither veto the move or sign it into law. It will now become law without his signature. Brown's letter states he believes keeping the elections center at its current location is the best value for taxpayers.

Felix Rodriguez grew up in this Northside community and now manages Hibbett Sports, one of the few remaining storefronts at the Gateway Mall.

"It's like a ghost town. There's nothing in those," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez worries about what will happen to his business if the elections center packs up and leaves.

It was a similar concern for Jack Rafidi, former owner of Lemon Tree. Just a few months ago he feared his business may suffer. Action News found out Lemon Tree was forced to close its doors just three weeks ago.

"Seeing them gone is not really kind of a shock because I knew it was coming," said Rodriguez.

The fight isn't over. Action News obtained a copy of a federal lawsuit the owners of Gateway Shopping Center filed to block City Council's legislation.

The suit argues a 10-year lease at Gateway would save taxpayers about $83,000 a year.

Rodriguez says the elections battle means more than just dollars and cents. "The communities like Pearl Street and Springfield, it's a lot of people that come in and actually have access to the election office where they can come vote."

Brown also objected to the move due to the potential to disenfranchise voters. Holland says just because the warehouse will be moving out of Gateway does not mean the Northside shopping center will no longer be a location for polling and early voting.

The debate over Gateway's fate will not impact the supervisor of election's main office building downtown.
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