Mayor Alvin Brown, (pictured) the first African-American mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, is leading in the polls and has steadfast support from former President Bill Clinton. But he still takes nothing for granted.
“I’m out every day engaging people and making sure they turn out to vote,” Brown said in an interview with BlackAmericaWeb.com. “I’m talking about moving Jacksonville forward. I’m blessed and humbled to be mayor and I’m staying focused on putting Jacksonville first.”
Brown, 53, the tenacious hometown Democrat, made history in 2011 as the first African-American ever elected mayor of Jacksonville, pulling off a stunning come-from-behind victory with strong support from African-Americans and longtime Republicans.
But today, Brown faces another formidable challenge: On Tuesday, voters will decide whether to return Brown to the mayor’s office or vote for his top opponent, Lenny Curry, a certified public accountant and former vice president of the Republican Party of Florida.
Depending on your political perspective, Brown does have an advantage: He received an endorsement from Bill Clinton last month at a private campaign event. Clinton and Brown still have close ties since Brown once served as a member of Clinton’s White House staff.
Supporters of Hillary Clinton are hoping Brown wins Tuesday so he can help rally voters in Duval County around Hillary Clinton’s candidacy should she announce her intentions to run for president. Florida will certainly be a showdown state for Clinton if former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush decides to throw his hat into the ring.
Since Brown was elected mayor, there’s been good news on the economic front. Brown said the unemployment rate in Jacksonville has dropped from 11.2 percent to 5.2 percent. He also said he helped create 32,000 jobs through partnerships with the private sector.
The city’s downtown is being revitalized, Brown says, businesses are investing; his mentoring initiative for young men of color is a success, and young people are thriving in classrooms, in part, because Brown appointed the first commissioner of education in Jacksonville’s history.
Brown’s mentoring program consists of 600 mentors who counsel students in the city’s public schools “so students won’t drop out of school.”
“I’m very proud of what we’re doing on education in Jacksonville,” Brown said.
Brown isn’t the only African-American politician who hopes to win an election this year.
In Charleston, South Carolina, City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie is running for mayor. Election Day is Nov. 3.
“Protecting the brand called ‘Charleston,’ for me, is the No. 1 priority,” Gregorie told reporters.
Gregorie, who is Black, is making his third bid for the mayor’s job. Gregorie has served on council since 2009.
Black Southern Candidates Look To Advance Progress, Help Democrats was originally published on blackamericaweb.com