Issue 166, February 19

This week we were fortunate enough to hear from three of the candidates for City Council At-Large Group 5.

First, we heard from Charles Garrison, a past construction manager who currently sits on the Jacksonville Environmental Protection board. He currently lives in Springfield and in the past, he worked on the Jacksonville Housing and Development Committee.

Garrison’s big push was for affordable housing. He said one in 10 people are on a waitlist for affordable housing. He is tired of hearing about “Jacksonville’s potential”. He felt that if we incentivize builders, they will build more affordable housing.

He wants to increase the number of public buildings, parks and neighborhoods. His vision is investing in the city for a better lifestyle for all.

Next, we heard from Jack Meeks. Meeks’ past is 50 years as a CPA. He’s had a practice in Jacksonville all this time, and lived in the Southside for 30 years, and now, 20 years in Springfield. He said living in the different areas of Jax, he has experienced a lot of turmoil.

Meeks’ past of being a Certified Fraud Investigator gives him ample experience to see that the Jax government has not been the best steward of our tax money. He had his attorney do a Public Official Review to do his own analysis of the city. He feels that the government agencies’ pensions have grown beyond the budget by millions of dollars. Our firefighters new hire wait-lists which used to be long, are down to zero, primarily because of the pension issue.

Chris Miller spoke last. Miller was a 30-year veteran of the Army and retired as a colonel. His past gave him the experience to run 17 bases in Germany and was the Inspector General in the Mid-east, in charge of security, briefing leaders, and holding staff accountable. He lived in Jacksonville in the 80’s and 90’s, and currently has been residing in Riverside for 11 years.

When Miller did some of his walk-arounds while campaigning, he has learned that most citizen’s main concern was with public safety. He feels that our city of now over 1M, needs to up the police force by about 300-400 more officers. TK Waters agreed that that increase would make all the difference in the world to lowering Jax’s crime problems.

He also said we could be one of the most business-friendly cities in the US, but our main issue is the long waits for permitting. When he asked our city leaders for a strategic plan, they gave him only a task list. Strategic planning is Miller’s strength and wants Jacksonville to think bigger, and long-term.

Miller also said schools are not at the level they should be to set children up for success. If charter schools can do it with the same funds, public schools should be able to, as well.

Please join us for another active meeting as we have three candidates for City Council District 11: Raul Arias, Norman Brewer, and Ramon Day. Have a great week and please go on the SBMC calendar and sign up for a TPC shift! The money we raise will go to our Christmas Kids’ program at the end of the year.


Jeanne Maron
2023 President

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