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By Tenley Ross, DVI Intern

With early voting in full swing, we’ve updated the guide of candidates available for your votes for mayoral, city council district and city council at-large elections. All citizens can vote for at-large members regardless of where they live. Courtesy of The Florida Times-Union‘s “Meet the Candidates” Q&As, get a closer look at where candidates stand on revitalizing Downtown below. Early voting runs through May 17 at select locations city-wide, and the general election will be held at all precincts Tuesday, May 19.

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Mayoral Election

 

MAYOR ALVIN BROWN

 

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Bio excerpt: On July 1, 2011, Alvin Brown made history by being sworn in as the first African American mayor of Jacksonville. Since his first day in office, Mayor Brown has kept his word and put Jacksonville first.

Mayor Brown has led with a vision of bringing Jacksonville together — working with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — to create greater opportunities for the city. He has moved Jacksonville forward, and has helped grow the economy, protect taxpayers, and improve education and public safety. Since first being elected, Mayor Brown has put politics aside and has focused on fostering business and employment opportunities for Jacksonville — for which the city has received national recognition.

What is your top priority for reviving downtown?

Before I was elected, I said a vibrant and modernized downtown would be a priority in my Administration. I’m proud to have kept my word and led the way on revitalizing Downtown Jacksonville during my four years in office. My Administration has worked with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents on making today’s downtown a reality. Downtown is now going through an economic and cultural renaissance. I helped create the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA), which has played a vital and positive role in helping to jump-start downtown development. Thanks to my Administration’s leadership and the DIA’s work, Downtown Jacksonville now has clear momentum. In the last four years, we have partnered with the private sector to achieve significant progress for downtown. For example: The Brooklyn area of downtown has been revitalized since 2011, with a Fresh Market, multiple restaurants, and more than 600 new housing units, which will all have a total economic impact of hundreds of millions of dollars for Jacksonville. EverBank has already relocated downtown and Citizens Property Insurance Company will soon be relocating downtown as well — together bringing thousands of new employees to Downtown Jacksonville. We worked with City Council to save the historic Bostwick Building and enable new ownership that will revitalize this critical structure at one of the entrances to downtown, while preserving its historic character. By joining together with a private partner, we have begun to renew the iconic public space at Hemming Plaza to make it safer, cleaner, and more attractive as a venue for community activities.

One Spark has brought national attention to downtown, as has the city’s partnership with the Jaguars in upgrading our football stadium to help attract events from around the globe. As a result of bringing a larger number and more diverse events to downtown venues, over 200,000 more visitors came to downtown in 2013-2014 than in the previous year. The Miami Herald recently said, “Downtown Jax has changed dramatically over the past three years” and “the city core has gone from drab to dynamite.” The Florida Times-Union said it best when they said, “Downtown is roaring to life.” Revitalizing the Jacksonville Landing, developing the Shipyards, and hopefully bringing life back to the Laura Street Trio are priorities for my Administration in taking Downtown Jacksonville to the next level.

I was proud to recently sign the DIA’s redevelopment plan into law, and I look forward to working with DIA leaders, the business community, downtown merchants and residents, the arts and cultural community, and others to help downtown realize its full potential. Over the next four years, I will build on all the success we’ve had over the last four years and continue to invest in Downtown Jacksonville so that it becomes a destination, not a pass-through to other neighborhoods. We can continue to make our city a world-class city, where people want to live, work, and play.