Democrat Jimmy Peluso beat Republican Joe Hogan in the May 16 runoff for Jacksonville City Council District 7, a new district encompassing almost all of the downtown Urban Core.
Hogan, a builder, pitched himself as a straight shooter. A conservative running in a heavily Democratic district who’s willing to tell voters what he thinks. He supported the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s decision to arrest a citizen who filed an internal affairs complaint and questioned why the police union would support the Democratic Peluso over him.
Peluso, a lobbyist for Vystar Credit Union, focused his message on policy specifics, emphasizing his obsession with even the “nerdiest” of topics as he put it at one forum while talking about land-use zoning overlays. He committed to supporting a tenants bill of rights, increasing funding for parks and recreation and fighting for better sidewalks, curbs and bicycle infrastructure.
The district came about after the Jacksonville City Council lost a racial gerrymandering lawsuit and a federal court ordered new maps drawn by civil-rights plaintiffs, including the Jacksonville Branch of the NAACP.
Even though the court-ordered district was drawn specifically to allow Black voters to elect their preferred candidate, no Black candidates filed in the race, and all five initial candidates were white.
The district also holds some of the city’s most distinctive neighborhoods: Downtown, Eastside, College Gardens, New Town, Brooklyn, Mixon Town, Riverside, Avondale, Murray Hill, Ortega, Venetia, Fairfax, the Mid-Westside, Sugar Hill, Phoenix and Fairfield.
“I will be an open ear,” Hogan told one crowd during the campaign. “I’m not going to tell you one thing and then go down to City Hall and make a deal in the backroom and vote differently. You get what you see with me, the good and the bad. … I have a vision that I’d love to see the city excel and grow.”