By Andrew Pantazi
The Tributary

A stunning 89 percent of Jacksonville voters said they don’t trust the City Council to draw districts in a fair way, and 85 percent said they want a bipartisan panel to handle Jacksonville redistricting instead, according to a new University of North Florida poll.

“Given recent challenges to the City Council’s redistricting procedures, it’s not surprising that folks don’t have a lot of trust in the process,” said Michael Binder, director of the UNF Public Opinion Research Lab. “With trust in the Council’s process so low, it’s no wonder that voters favor an independent panel.”

A previous Tributary/UNF poll asked similar questions about the Florida Legislature’s redistricting process for congressional and legislative maps. That poll found that 70 percent of voters wanted a bipartisan panel to draw new state legislative maps instead of the Florida Legislature, potentially indicating voters trust their local City Council members even less than the already low trust they place in state lawmakers.

In that previous poll, voters said they’d rather City Council districts reflect existing neighborhoods and communities. The Tributary has reported that the city’s proposed map would split 47 neighborhoods.

People can tell City Council what they think about the redistricting plans tonight at Raines High School from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Only 32 percent of voters said they somewhat or strongly approved of the job City Council is doing, while 57 percent said they somewhat or strongly disapproved.

Of the other public figures asked about, only Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke polled worse (13 percent approved, 54 percent didn’t approve).

The poll also found a dead heat in the special election for City Council At Large Group 3, with 50 percent of likely voters saying they’d vote for Democrat Tracye Polson and 50 percent saying they’d vote for Republican Nick Howland.

UNF conducted the poll by email with 443 voters, including 341 likely voters, and weighted the results by party registration, age, race, education and gender.

The poll results aren’t certain, and UNF estimated a 4.7 percentage point credibility interval. That means there is a 95 percent chance that the percentage of likely voters supporting Howland is between 45 percent and 54.4 percent, and the percentage of likely voters supporting Polson is between 45.6 percent and 55 percent.

Polson won 36.7 percent of the vote in an initial December election, and Howland won 35.9 percent. Overall, Democratic candidates combined for 50.4 percent of the vote to Republicans’ 49.6 percent. Republican

Because no one got a majority, the election to replace the late City Councilman Tommy Hazouri went to a runoff. Early voting is going on now, and election day is next Tuesday.

Jacksonville will elect a new mayor and a new sheriff in the 2023 elections.

So far, Democrat Lakesha Burton leads the sheriff’s election with 39 percent support, followed by Republican T.K. Waters at 27 percent and Republican Matt Nemeth at 15 percent. Democrats Tony Cummings and Wayne Clark have four and two percent support, respectively.

In the mayor’s race, Democrat Donna Deegan has 41 percent support. Republican JAX Chamber President Daniel Davis, who has yet to announce a campaign, had 20 percent support. Republican City Councilwoman Leanna Cumber had nine percent support, and seven percent of voters said they support fellow Republican City Councilman Al Ferraro.

Combined, voters 36 percent of voters support the Republican candidates, compared to the 41 percent for Deegan, the sole Democratic candidate. Republican voters were more likely than Democrats to say they support “someone else”.

This is Changing Florida, a Tributary newsletter keeping you up to date on redistricting, demographics and the fight for political power in the Sunshine State.

To make sure you don’t miss out on an issue, click here to subscribe now and play a part in ensuring fair districts for all of Florida. Click here to read our archives.

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If you have questions about redistricting or the Census, you can send them to us by clicking here.


The Jacksonville City Council redistricting plans faced their most serious threat of a lawsuit yet: Four local activist organizations have called on the Rules Committee to redraw the plans to avoid the “legal problems that would follow.”

The Thursday letter from the ACLU Northeast Florida Chapter, the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, the Harriet Tubman Freedom Fighters and the Jacksonville NAACP decried what the organizations called an “intentional and unnecessary packing of Black voters.” The letter attached a detailed analysis that found Jacksonville’s Black residents deserve federal protections under the Voting Rights Act.

Such an analysis is often the first step in preparing to file a lawsuit. Some experts have said the city’s redistricting plan might violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by packing Black voters.

Read More.

On The Calendar

The Jacksonville City Council Rules Committee will host its final public hearings tonight to gather community input about its local redistricting plan at 6 p.m. at Raines High School.

The Florida House Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee is scheduled to meet Friday.

You can stream that or find past meetings on The Florida Channel.

What You Need To Know

The Tributary has put together a primer on redistricting ahead of Thursday’s final public hearing to help residents better understand the issues.

The ACLU of Florida has also put together a public comment toolkit for Jacksonville redistricting.

Some local Democratic-leaning organizations have also put together an extensive guide explaining the background of Jacksonville redistricting and suggested recommendations.

Submit your maps

We want to see what you think Jacksonville’s 14 City Council districts should look like.

Here’s how you can get started drawing your own maps.

  • Go to DavesRedistricting.org.
  • Create an account.
  • Go to DavesRedistricting.org/maps.
  • Select New Map.
  • Choose Florida as your state.
  • Select “Other” as your plan type.
  • Restrict to Duval.
  • Select 14 districts.
  • Click apply and it will take you to a new screen where you can begin drawing districts.

When you’re done, send a link to your map to info@jaxtrib.org, so we can feature your map in a future newsletter.

Andrew Pantazi edits and reports for The Tributary. He previously worked as a reporter at The Florida Times-Union where he helped organize the newsroom's union with the NewsGuild-CWA. He is a Jacksonville...