Dick Kravitz working at elections office
Dick Kravitz has been a college athlete, a public school teacher, a professional sports team executive and a city economic development official.
He is perhaps best known for his service to Jacksonville from 1987-99 as a Jacksonville City Council member and his two terms in the Florida House from 2000-08.
Kravitz is calling on his background in management, organization and government to again serve the community as a part-time consultant to Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan, also a former council member and state representative.
Much of Kravitz’ time in the past few months has been spent with the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, working with the group and its lobbyists as legislation that could affect voting in Florida made its way through the House and Senate.
“There are some people in the Senate that I served in the House with for eight years. It’s about personal relations, so it’s easy to get appointments and there’s a lot of trust among us,” Kravitz said. “I tried to add to what the paid lobbyists were doing and help out a little to promote some of the bills.”
With the session concluded, Kravitz is turning his attention to helping educate students about the voting process and getting young people registered.
Part of that involves going to schools and setting up authentic polling places for student elections.
“We go out to elementary and middle schools and set up voting booths. The kids vote for their officers. We use the same machines their parents use. It helps them understand and like the voting process. The kids love it,” Kravitz said.
The same process is used in high schools, with the addition of early registration.
In Duval County, you must be 18 to vote, but registration is allowed as early as 16 to be eligible to vote in the first election after a voter reaches 18.
“And we’ve been out to some of the colleges,” Kravitz said. “That’s not only registration, but information.”
Kravitz said college students from out of state may be able to register to vote in Duval County if they meet residency requirements, but he doesn’t recommend it.
“It’s usually better for them to get an absentee ballot from where they’re from,” he said. “Generally, it’s better to keep your registration where your permanent home is.”
Kravitz has received myriad awards, including the Sporting News Double-A Minor League Baseball Manager of the Year award in 1973, the Mayor’s Victim Advocate Award in 1993, the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association House Leadership Award in 2005 and 2006 and the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program Legislative Voice for Children Award in 2008 – among many others.
But there’s one effort Kravitz just couldn’t get over the fence that he still talks about.
Appointed by Mayor Jake Godbold in 1979 as the first executive director of the new Sports & Entertainment Commission, Kravitz started a campaign to bring Major League Baseball spring training to Jacksonville.
Kravitz said at the time several MLB teams were looking for new spring training sites.
His plan involved building a complex that would support four teams with a ballpark and practice fields that could be used for other activities in the 10 months of the year when spring training wasn’t underway.
The economic impact would have been tremendous, Kravitz said. Each team had about 25 millionaires on the roster, plus the owners.
“Imagine an annual convention that would bring 100 millionaires to Jacksonville for 45 days. Also, 70 percent of the fans would have been tourists who came to Jacksonville to see their team,” Kravitz said.
The issue was that Jacksonville at the time was focused on football and gaining an NFL team.
“The timing was wrong for the political interest,” Kravitz said. “We didn’t have the political will.”