2023 City Election Guide
City Election will Shape Jax Vision, Priorities
Can a court-ordered map creating several competitive City Council districts, cutthroat competition among GOP candidates for Mayor, and strong progressive candidates in a handful of countywide races, chip away at one-party control of Jax government for the next four years? Yes, if people who want to see change turn out to vote.
Left-leaning voters at the Beach and throughout Jacksonville have opportunities to tip the balance in key contests - including the mayor's race - contributing to a new vision for the city, and reshaping priorities set in its $1.6 billion budget. Here's what you need to know:
Unlike national and state elections, the city holds a unitary election. This means all candidates regardless of party or affiliation are on the same ballot for the first election on March 21. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the top two vote-getters, whatever their party, face off in the general election on May 16. All voters can vote in both elections.
More Candidate Information
JAXToday, WJCT's email newsletter, has published an detailed Voter Guide to the City Council races, and another on the Property Appraiser's race based on candidate questionnaires. JAX NOW sent their own questionnaires to all the candidates. To find their endorsements based on those answers click here. If you live in the Mardarin area and want recommendations, check out the Indivisible Mandarin Voter Guide. If you missed the Beaches Watch Mayoral Forum featuring all the candidates, it's a great way to meet them all.
Beachfolks on the Ballot
Among the 70 candidates qualifying for seats in the 2023 city election are some familiar names and faces. Long-time Beach resident Donna Deegan (D) is seeking election as Jacksonville's next Mayor. Deegan was recently endorsed by former Beach mayors, Harriet Pruett and Ellen Glasser.
Intracoastal West resident Josh Hicks is running for the City Council At-Large, Group 2 seat. And Mike Finn is challenging GOP incumbent and fellow Neptune Beach resident Rory Diamond
as a write-in candidate for City Council District 13.
Both Hicks and Finn are officers in the Beaches Democratic Club.
Vote-by-Mail & Voter Registration Deadlines
The 2023 city election is the first to be held since a new state law purged all Vote-by-Mail lists. Voters are now required to submit new requests for a mail-in ballot after every general election, in other words, every two years. Click here to renew your VBM request. If you've received your mail ballot and want a refresher on how to use it, click here.
If you are a new voter, the deadline to register to vote for the first election is February 21 and April 17 for the May runoff election. Click here to register.
Redistricting: Maps, Lawsuits & More
The city's had a turbulent redistricting process, resulting in a federal court suit and rejection of multiple maps proffered by the City Council. Find out what happened and see the court-selected map we'll be using (submitted by a coalition of voters and voting rights organizations) here.
By the Numbers
Seventy candidates have qualified for seats in the city election, including 35 GOP, 26 DEMS, 3 Libertarian Party of FL, 3 NPAs & 3 write-ins. Eight seats - including Supervisor of Elections, Tax Collector and Sheriff - were uncontested and will be filled by GOP candidates. Three City Council seats drew only GOP contenders. Click here for a complete list of 2023 qualifying candidates.
Candidate Forums, & Debates
This article summarizes the November Mayoral forum attended by 7 of the 9 current candidates. To view the Interfaith Center's Mayoral Forum featuring Cumber, Deegan & Gibson click here. Beaches Watch held a rare forum featuring all the candidates, available here. Find the latest forum information in the BAM Action Alert. If you aren't on the mailing list, sign up here.
What's on the Ballot at the Beach?
Beach voters will see these races on their city election ballots: Jacksonville Mayor, Property Appraiser, City Council District 13, and three City Council At-Large seats: Groups 1, 2, and 5. Click the buttons below to find out more about the candidates and what's at stake in these races.
Redistricting: The Final Map
In March, 2022 the Jacksonville City Council adopted a Duval redistricting map that protected incumbent councilors, split numerous neighborhoods, and maintained a history of packing a majority of the city’s Black residents into just 4 voting districts.
The ACLU of NE Florida, Florida Rising, Jacksonville NAACP, Northside Coalition, and 10 Jacksonville voters challenged this map on the basis of racial gerrymandering. In October a federal judge agreed, rejected the Council’s map, and gave them a chance to redraw it. The Council’s marginally altered second map was also rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Morales Howard - who ordered the city to use one of the maps drawn by the groups who sued the city.
The new court-ordered map still gives the GOP a countywide advantage, but it does create at least one more competitive district for JAX residents. The city filed an appeal of this new map, but a federal appeals panel upheld Judge Howard’s decision to use it in the upcoming election.This is likely not the end of the legal battle: The city could still appeal to the US Supreme Court. And the plaintiffs who challenged the original map are still pursuing additional improvements. But the map above is what we’ll be using this year. Click here to zoom in closer.
Eight Seek Office as Jacksonville Mayor
Eight candidates - including four Republicans, two Democrats, one NPA and one write-in - are vying for the opportunity to serve as Jacksonville's mayor in the 2023 city election.
Democrats are Donna Deegan, veteran TV anchor and breast cancer advocate (pictured on left), and Audrey Gibson, long-time state legislator (pictured on right). The two face a crowded and contentious field of GOP contenders, including Daniel Davis, LeAnna Cumber, Al Ferraro and Frank Kessler. Rounding out the field of candidates are NPA Omega Allen and write-in Brian Griffin.
With no shortage of campaign and PAC funding, leading GOP candidates are attacking each other in a deluge of local TV ads. The mayor's race is not short of kingmaking and intrigue. A newspaper headline described the race as an effort by challengers "to derail the coronation of the establishment scion." That scion is Daniel Davis. Read TU columnist Nate Monroe's insightful analysis of the 2023 mayor's race here.
Property Appraiser Race Draws
Democratic Competition for GOP
The race to be the next Duval County Property Appraiser is the only Constitutional Officer post to draw a Democratic candidate. Joyce Morgan, who represented Arlington on the City Council, is running against GOP candidates Danny Becton and Jason Fischer. If elected, Morgan would become the first Black woman to hold this office.
Remaining Constitutional Offices - including Supervisor of Elections, Tax Collector, and Sheriff - will be filled by unopposed Republicans.
Write-in Candidate Puts City Council District 13 on Ballot
It looked like the GOP incumbent for City Council District 13 - which spans the three Beach cities - would skate to re-election unopposed. That was until Mike Finn, Beaches Democratic Club secretary, threw in his name as a write-in candidate. A long-shot race, it forces City Council member Rory Diamond to pay attention. Time to work on the bench for the next election!
At-Large, Group 2: Hicks vs Salem; Other
At-Large Races Offer Famine or Feast
Democrat Josh Hicks faces GOP candidate Ron Salem in the At-Large, Group 2 City Council race. With only two candidates, this race will be decided in the first election on March 21.
Hicks has mounted a grass-roots campaign over the last year, and enjoys broad support among progressives at the beaches.
In addition to Group 2, two other At-Large seats are on the ballot for Beach voters. In Group 1, Republican Terrance Freeman faces Libertarian Party of FL (LPF) candidate Eric Parker. No good choices here. In contrast, six candidates - including Democrats Charles Garrison and Nahshon Nicks -are vying for the Group 5 At-Large seat. Other candidates in the race are Chris Miller (R),
Reginald Blount (R), Jack Meeks (NPA), and Jerry Rorabaugh (LPF).
Republicans will fill the remaining At-Large seats (Groups 3 and 4) as no other candidates qualified in these races. At-Large candidates on the City Council must reside in specific areas of Jacksonville, but are elected by voters countywide.