Art Graham is running for the City Council District 13 seat, which includes the beaches and a portion of Southside. Dist. 13 was represented by Jerry Holland until redistricting. The incumbent is Alberta Hipps, who is running for mayor.
ARE YOU FROM JACKSONVILLE?
“I’m a military brat, so I’m from everywhere. My dad was in the Air Force and I was actually born just north of Paris at a military base there. We lived up and down the East Coast and I ended up in Atlanta for most of my childhood. I moved to Jacksonville Beach in 1990.”
“Part of it is that I lived in Laguna Beach, Calif. in the late 1980s when I was working for Goodyear. Laguna Beach is a model for what a town [and a beach town] should be. I want to take my experiences from living in other parts of the country and the world and apply the best ones here.”
WHERE ELSE HAVE YOU WORKED?
“Betz Paper. And Georgia Pacific until about six weeks ago. Right now I’m an independent consultant for a Jacksonville Beach firm called Coastal Science while I run this campaign. Then I’ll probably go back to GP.”
TELL ME ABOUT WHAT YOU DO EXACTLY?
I’m in recovery, which means figuring out new ways to take all the by-products from the paper-making process, like turpentine, and turn them into useful materials. You can make fragrances and lots of things from paper by-products. There are really only about six people in the U.S. who do what I do.”
HOW DO ENGINEERS APPROACH POLITICS?
“Optimists see a glass that is half-full, pessimists see a glass that is half-empty and an engineer sees a glass that is twice as big as it needs to be.”
WHAT DOES YOUR LIFE IN JACKSONVILLE BEACH MEAN FOR JACKSONVILLE AS A WHOLE?
“One of the other things motivating my decision to go into politics was just looking at the people on the Council in Jacksonville Beach and thinking, ‘Are these people representing the people they say they are representing?’ The more Council meetings I attended, the more it grew on me. I was elected to Planning Board in Jacksonville Beach in 1997. We’ve had to battle a lot of bad ideas for development and have worked to push forward a lot of good ideas. Jacksonville Beach has come a long way since I moved here 12 years ago.”
WHO DO YOU CREDIT WITH SOME OF THE SUCCESS?
“Former mayor Bill Latham did a great job. And having a Jacksonville mayor from the beach has helped a lot. But it was Jake Godbold that really put Jacksonville on the map. I was also in Leadership Jacksonville with a lot of people who are doing great things for the city. It’s nice to spend time with people who know that there is more than one way to get from point A to point B.”
SO YOU’VE GOT THE SUPPORT OF THE BEACHES?
“All three beach mayors support me and several beach Council members support me.”
HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOURSELF POLITICALLY?
“I’m conservative and the engineer in me believes in no waste. I’m not smarter than anyone else, but I look at things differently.”
“I remember going to a meeting recently where they were talking about hiring consultants for each of the three beaches to make suggestions regarding renourishment. I was the only one who said, ‘Let’s hire one consultant for all three beaches and let Jacksonville kick-in, since the beach is Jacksonville’s playground.’ I just want Jacksonville and the beaches to have the foresight to not let happen to us what happened to Atlanta — to not prepare for growth.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BETTER JACKSONVILLE?
“It’s a good sign that we’re preparing for the future. I like to break it down though. If Better Jacksonville costs $2.2 billion then that’s about $8,550 per household. It helps to visualize it. Eight lanes on J. Turner Butler, that’s about $1,450 per household. I want people to know what they’re buying. But of course, I’m for it.”
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO IF YOU’RE ELECTED TO CITY COUNCIL?
“One big thing is getting ready for the Super Bowl. This is really our chance to clean up the house in time for the guests.”
WHERE ELSE WILL YOU FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION?
HOW’S THE CAMPAIGN GOING?
“I’ve got Bruce Barcello and John Libby doing my numbers. I’ve got Joe Arnall, Michael Munz, Bobby Stein, T.R. Hainline and John Meserve on my finance committee. I figure I need about $90,000 to pull this off. I think I’ll do it.”
WHO IS YOUR OPPONENT?
“Holly Kartsonis. She ran against Don Davis for State Representative four years ago. She lives in Deerwood.”
WHAT’S THE BREAKDOWN IN DISTRICT 13 IN TERMS OF BEACH VS. TOWN?
The total population of this district based on the 2000 Census is about 58,500. Of those, 42,000 live at the beach. So, it’s about a 70/30 split.”
He was a chemical engineering major at Georgia Tech.
— by Sean McManus