Local

Ferraro out as Director of Neighborhoods after facing pushback from Republican supermajority

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville City Council managed to block Mayor Donna Deegan’s pick to lead the Neighborhoods Department, with former Republican Councilmember Al Ferraro withdrawing his name from consideration Friday.

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Ferraro’s appointment became the first battle between the Republican-controlled body and the Democratic mayor, and the outcome may serve as a precursor to other contentious appointments still under consideration.

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Ferraro faced questions since his appointment was announced in late June, both because he would need a waiver to assume the position due to his lack of a college degree and because he owed thousands in fines to the department he was chosen to lead.

Ferraro paid off those fines after Action News Jax began asking questions in early July.

Ferraro, who ran for mayor in March, also declined to endorse Deegan’s opponent in the May election, after the bloody first round which saw his top Republican opponent Daniel Davis attack his candidacy.

UNF political science professor Dr. Michael Binder noted while Ferraro didn’t overtly endorse Deegan, her Republican General Counsel pick Randy DeFoor did.

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“And there’s a lot of anger at Republicans that kind of abandoned Davis and endorsed Deegan in that May race,” Binder said.

DeFoor has received similar pushback from council members, who have questioned whether state and local lobbying bans would prevent her from carrying out the role of General Counsel.

Others like Council President Ron Salem (R-Group 2 At-Large) have indicated opposition for other reasons.

“I have some concerns about her temperament that’s she’s exhibited at many council meetings and committee meetings towards me,” Salem said during a committee hearing last week.

Similarly, Deegan’s hope of creating a Chief of Diversity and Inclusion was stomped out after a council committee pulled funding for the position from the mayor’s budget.

Binder noted if the Ferraro appointment is any indication, the Republican supermajority on council could likely get its way on the other battles as well.

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“There’s not that many Democrats. They’re going to need some Republican votes and I don’t know that they are there,” Binder said.

Despite the defeat, Mayor Deegan seems poised to keep Ferraro in City Government in some capacity.

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“I’m grateful for his willingness to serve Jacksonville, and I look forward to identifying a role where he can continue doing so,” Deegan said in an emailed statement.

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