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New appointments and leadership program at JFRD aim to produce home-grown talent, but with a cost

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mayor Donna Deegan has announced some shakeups in JFRD leadership, but some of the top officials will be staying in place.

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Along with some of the new faces, are some new costs to taxpayers.

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JFRD Fire Chief Keith Powers and Chief of Emergency Preparedness Andre Ayoub will remain in their current positions, as will four other JFRD leaders.

“I am so very, very grateful for his leadership everyday,” Deegan said speaking on Powers’ service to JFRD.

Along with those remaining in place, ten new leadership appointments at JFRD were also announced.

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Among those appointments are three entirely new leadership positions.

The appointments are part of a new leadership development program being rolled out at JFRD and ultimately other city agencies according to the mayor.

The program involves current leadership helping to train the next generation of leaders and the city coving the cost of college degrees and industry certification courses.

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“I want to create an opportunity for folks who have already been exceptional in the jobs they’ve done at JFRD, but perhaps have not had the opportunity to be in a position to have the experience level needed to step into this job. Now we will not have to have that concern going forward,” Deegan said.

In total, the JFRD leadership salary budget is going up by roughly $787,000 a year.

The mayor’s office noted the cost increase equates to less than one-tenth of one percent of the overall JFRD budget.

Deegan argued with the makeup of JFRD leadership now 38 percent Black, six percent Asian, and six percent Hispanic, the department now better reflects the community it serves.

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“More than anything else I want everyone in the city to feel part of their city government. I want them to feel like they are represented in this government and I think the more we can make steps in that direction, the better our city is going to be overall,” Deegan said.

Deegan indicated there is no set timeline for the eventual replacement of the JFRD leaders who were reappointed Thursday, nor did the guarantee those put into the deputy positions would eventually take over those higher roles.

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However, Deegan did note we’ll likely see a new Fire Chief at some point during her first term.

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