JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — Election day is less than two weeks away in Jacksonville and Republican candidates are busy jockeying for votes from the conservative pool of voters.
In a debate Wednesday evening, seven candidates answered questions about reducing crime, improving infrastructure and funding for the Jaguars’ stadium renovations.
Unless one of the five serious candidates is able to secure more than 50 percent of the vote on March 21 – an unlikely feat – the top GOP vote-getter will likely face off with the top Democrat vote-getter in a runoff election on May 16.
With negative campaign ads making wild allegations, The Florida Standard sent questions to each of the Republican candidates asking them to set the record straight on issues important to conservative voters. Al Ferraro was the only one who responded.
Would you support any new taxes or increases in local taxes?
Davis: No response. According to an email obtained by the Central Florida Post, Davis supported doubling a tax on gasoline – which is projected to take nearly $1 billion from residents over the next thirty years – pushed by Mayor Lenny Curry and approved by the City Council in May 2021. Since 2013, Davis has served as President and CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
Cumber: No response. Cumber was one of the four members of the Jacksonville City Council who voted against the gas tax. She also tried, unsuccessfully, to have it repealed.
Ferraro: “Every piece of legislation that has come my way has been considered with the same question in mind, ‘Is this the right decision for the taxpayer?’ To date, I have never found a situation where I have felt that the right choice was to raise the tax burden on Jacksonville families. I opposed the Gas Tax and multiple millage rate increases because I believe that Jacksonville does not have a revenue problem but a spending problem. We need to return our focus to funding our core functions.”
If elected mayor, would you advocate to defund JASMYN? In December 2022, Duval County Schools cut ties with JASMYN after The Florida Standard reported that the group used a sexually explicit card game to promote an event for young teens.
Davis: No response. When asked about the Chamber’s support for JASMYN at a recent meeting with prospective voters, Davis admitted that the Chamber has sponsored JASMYN’s annual “Coming Out Breakfast” for the past several years. He said “the Chamber is not funding any more sponsorships,” but did not specify what that meant. Davis added that he would be upset if adults in schools tried to talk to his children “about sex or anything like that,” but did not denounce the organization. When asked if he would consider putting out a statement clarifying his view or the Chamber’s view of JASMYN, Davis responded: “I haven’t thought about it.”
Cumber: No response. In December, Cumber tweeted her response to The Florida Standard’s article exposing JASMYN’s scrubbing of its social media pages, writing: “As a mom of a 9 and 11 year old, the sexualizing of children is outrageous and has to stop. Posting pornography on a youth targeted social media account is wrong. This is completely inappropriate content for children. Period.”
Ferraro: “When JASMYN was first brought to the council, it was promoted to us as an agency that rehomed troubled youth. To this day, they still claim that is their primary purpose. We now know more about the indoctrination they are doing on the youth of Jacksonville, and the city should not be subsidizing these activities. Future budgets proposed by the Ferraro administration would not include any funding for JASMYN. There are many other wonderful organizations in Jacksonville that provide housing for our youth that do not indoctrinate children."
If elected mayor, would you sign a bill that removed sexual orientation and gender identity from the city’s Human Rights Ordinance (HRO)? Conservatives in Jacksonville colloquially refer to the expanded HRO as the “bathroom bill” and consider it an attack on religious liberty.
Davis: No response. Under Davis' leadership, the Chamber supported the HRO.
Cumber: No response. Cumber sponsored the HRO in 2020.
Ferraro: “Yes. I voted against the HRO amendments 11 times on the Council and I would continue that stance as Mayor.”
Do you support the removal of any confederate monuments in Jacksonville?
Davis: No response. Blake Harper, one the city’s most outspoken opponents of removal, says he asked Davis about his stance on the issue recently at a meeting with prospective voters. Davis reportedly responded by saying he supports the use of private funds to move the “Women of the Southland” statute to private property.
Cumber: No response. In May 2022, Cumber voted against an ordinance – proposed by Ferraro – that would have put the issue on the November ballot and allowed the people of Jacksonville to determine the fate of the monuments.
Ferraro: “No, I do not support the removal of any monuments. This movement will entail much more than just confederate monuments. It includes names of streets, schools, even our very city. Our city's name sake had a very controversial past. I reject the picking and choosing of our history and believe our history should be protected. This issue isn't really about statues. It's about who gets to decide. I do not believe that a small group of politicians should be speaking for the rest of the city. That is why I proposed the amendment to put the issue on the ballot for the voters to decide.”
Over the past year, members of the public have asked the City Council to declare Jacksonville a Sanctuary City for the Preborn – either via resolution or ordinance. Would you use your office to advocate for equal protection under the law for preborn boys and girls in Jacksonville?
Davis: No response.
Cumber: No response.
Ferraro: “I believe that life begins at Conception and I will support the right of children to live long healthy lives. It is not lost on me that this creates a responsibility to make sure that we fund our crisis pregnancy centers and ensure that we have good quality programs that are looking out for the needs of underprivileged children.”
Do you think taxpayer money should be used to fund nonprofits of which City Council members are employees?
Davis: No response.
Cumber: No response.
Ferraro: “No. I think this is an open door to corruption. I would support legislation to correct this clear abuse of taxpayer money.”