Mayoral election in Jacksonville, Florida (2023)
The city of Jacksonville, Florida held a mayoral election in 2023 to select its next leader. This election came at an important time for Jacksonville as it determined whether the city would remain the largest in the U.S. with a Republican mayor or switch to Democratic leadership. After a competitive race between Democrat Donna Deegan and Republican Daniel Davis, Deegan emerged victorious in the runoff election to become Jacksonville’s next mayor.
Background on Jacksonville
Jacksonville has a long history tracing back to the 16th century when French Huguenots first settled in the area. It was incorporated as a city in 1832 and named after President Andrew Jackson. Jacksonville steadily grew over the next century into a major industrial and transportation hub.
Located in northeast Florida, Jacksonville is situated along the St. Johns River with the Atlantic Ocean to its east. At over 840 square miles, it is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. Its suburbs stretch across Duval county and into neighboring counties.
With just over 900,000 residents, Jacksonville is the 12th most populous city in the U.S. Its population is quite diverse with almost 60% white, 30% black, 10% Hispanic/Latino, and 4% Asian residents. The median age is 35 and median household income is around $50,000.
Recent Mayoral Elections
Jacksonville holds nonpartisan elections for mayor, meaning party affiliations do not appear on the ballot. However, the partisan leanings of candidates and outcomes still influence elections.
In 2015, Republican Lenny Curry defeated incumbent Democrat Alvin Brown by a narrow 51-49% margin. This ended 20 years of Democratic control of the mayor’s office.
Curry easily won re-election in 2019, defeating three lesser-known candidates with 58% of the vote. His victory ensured Republicans would hold the mayorship heading into 2023.
With Curry term-limited, the open 2023 race generated significant interest. The outcome would determine if Republicans could extend their hold on the mayor’s office.
The general election on March 21, 2023, featured a field of eight candidates. Donna Deegan (D) received 39% of the vote, followed by Daniel Davis (R) with 25%. As the top two finishers, Deegan and Davis advanced to a runoff election.
On May 16, 2023, Deegan defeated Davis by a margin of 52-48% in the runoff to win the open mayoral seat. Her victory returned Jacksonville to Democratic control after eight years of Republican leadership under Curry.
Ultimately, Deegan prevailed in the competitive open race to become Jacksonville’s next mayor. Jacksonville was now positioned to move in a more progressive policy direction aligned with most other large U.S. cities.
Mayor-Elect Donna Deegan
Donna Deegan has deep roots in Jacksonville spanning five generations. She is a former TV news anchor in the city, establishing her as a well-known community figure. Deegan is also a breast cancer survivor who founded philanthropic organizations focused on cancer research and support services.
Deegan campaigned on a platform calling for investments in infrastructure, public health, affordable housing, and an inclusive economy. She criticized the “handful of well-connected people” benefiting under the previous administration and vowed to pursue reforms.
Defeated Candidate Daniel Davis
Daniel Davis has experience in both business and politics. He previously served as a Republican in the Florida House and led the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
Davis ran on traditional GOP priorities like lower taxes, job creation, and increased school choice. He aligned himself closely with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and emphasized continuing Mayor Curry’s policies.
Future Outlook for Jacksonville
In office, Deegan will face challenges like aging infrastructure, racial disparities, flooding risks, and lagging public transit options. Managing Jacksonville’s budget and priorities while limits from state government will also pose difficulties.
However, Deegan will have opportunities to revitalize Jacksonville’s downtown, better utilize its waterfront, expand healthcare access, reduce crime through community programs, and bring inclusive growth to disadvantaged neighborhoods.
After eight years under Republican leadership, Jacksonville’s 2023 mayoral election brought a change in partisan control. Donna Deegan emerged victorious in the open race to become Jacksonville’s first Democratic mayor since 2015. With extensive local ties and experience, Deegan is positioned to steer Jacksonville in a more progressive direction. However, she will face substantial challenges governing a diverse city with limited resources. How Deegan navigates these obstacles while pursuing her policy goals will greatly shape Jacksonville’s trajectory over the next four years.
Who was elected mayor of Jacksonville in 2023?
Donna Deegan, a Democrat, was elected mayor of Jacksonville in 2023. She defeated Republican Daniel Davis in the runoff election.
How long had Republicans controlled the Jacksonville mayor’s office?
Heading into the 2023 election, Republicans had held the mayor’s office in Jacksonville for the previous 8 years under Mayor Lenny Curry.
What were some of Donna Deegan’s policy priorities?
Deegan campaigned on investments in infrastructure, public health, affordable housing, and building an inclusive economy. She criticized the influence of “well-connected people” in city government.
What experience did Daniel Davis have prior to running for mayor?
Davis had served as a Republican in the Florida legislature and led the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce before running for mayor.
What challenges will Donna Deegan face as Jacksonville’s new mayor?
Deegan will face challenges like aging infrastructure, racial inequities, climate risks, public transit deficits, and managing the city’s budget and priorities.