JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A campaign sign for Jacksonville City Council District 7 candidate Reggie Gaffney Jr. has been taken down after an opposing candidate shared photos of the sign online.
The sign in question read, ‘Re-elect Reggie Gaffney Jr.” but Gaffney Jr. has never held elected office, let alone the seat he’s running for.
District 7 candidate Kim Pryor was livid when she saw the sign suggesting Reggie Gaffney Jr. was an incumbent candidate.
It’s been removed now, but Pryor argued even with the sign gone, it’s unfair that not all candidates have been playing by the rules.
Pryor said constituents first brought the issue to her attention.
“So I came out here, and the sign was taped to this railing here,”m said Pryor, pointing to a section of railing on the corner of Dunn Avenue and Harts Road.
She snapped a photo of the sign, which clearly read, “Re-elect Reggie Gaffney Jr.”
But the only Gaffney to hold District 7 is his father, Reggie Gaffney Sr.
“Why would you try to mislead your potential constituents in that way?” said Pryor.
Pryor said she was out measuring and photographing the sign when Gaffney Jr. confronted her.
“He got very upset with me. Wanted to know why I was out here, why I was trying to slam him on things,” said Pryor.
Then, Pryor said Gaffney Jr. and a woman he was with took out a large red sticker with the word “elect” written on it.
“It was ready to go to cover ‘re-elect’ with ‘elect,” said Pryor.
She took another photo of the sign in which you can see a faint outline of the word “re-elect” fading through the sticker.
“This was an honest mistake. There were oversites in the creative process, and the corrective stickers were ordered once we realized the issue occurred,” said Gaffney Jr. in a text message. “It was unfortunate a sign got out without the updated language.”
The sign has since been removed.
“There has been a discrepancy on my campaign sign, and it is being corrected,” said Gaffney Jr. in an emailed statement.
Florida law prohibits falsely claiming incumbency on campaign signage, punishable by a civil fine up to $1,000.
Pryor said she’s not sure a fine is in order, but she hopes the ordeal sends a clear message to other candidates that they need to play by the rules “so that, ideally, it’s a level playing field for everybody.”
“This just seems sneaky,” said Pryor.
It appears some of Gaffney Jr.’s other signs may still be violating state statutes.
While putting this story together, we noticed another sign just down the street from the one that had been removed that read “Elect Reggie Gaffney Jr. City Council.”
State law requires the word " for” to be placed between the candidate’s name and the office they’re running for.
We asked Gaffney whether his campaign intended to fix the problem.
“I am working with the supervisor of (the) elections office to ensure my signs are compliant and will make any changes needed to ensure the campaign is compliant,” said Gaffney Jr.
Gaffney Jr. also criticized his opponents for making a problem of his sign issues.
“My opponents don’t have any solutions to the issues facing our city. Rather than focus on solving the issues of crime in our streets, rising inflation, or how low-income families are going to pay for rent, they are focused on me,” said Gaffney Jr.
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