by David Chapman
With his family and Mayor John Peyton at his side, Mayor-elect Alvin Brown reached out to citizens Thursday to move forward with his vision for a better Jacksonville.
“The job ahead will not be easy,” said Brown. “This is about Jacksonville and its future.”
Brown, the city’s first African-American mayor and the first Democrat elected to the position in 20 years, was declared the winner Wednesday after Tuesday’s election results were too close to call.
In his first public appearance since claiming victory over Mike Hogan, Brown thanked supporters on the steps of City Hall and discussed his vision.
He stressed “taking Jacksonville to the next level” in a nonpartisan manner, saying former mayoral candidate Audrey Moran “had it right” in that regard. He also talked briefly about the budget, jobs and education.
“We’ll need the support of our neighbors who didn’t support us,” he said. “I believe when we work together that anything is possible.”
Brown called for unifying the community.
“This is your city. Let’s make it happen together.”
Before his news conference, Brown met with Peyton to discuss the transition from one administration to the next.
Peyton said that over the next 41 days until Brown takes office, his team will continue the “most complete, most transparent” transition the city has ever seen.
Peyton, in a joint session with Brown, later told reporters his staff has created more than 40 white papers and a data bank that will help him make personnel decisions and has set up space in City Hall to assist with the effort. Such efforts began last year with an eye toward the next administration.
While he hasn’t revealed who might be on his transition team, Brown said he planned on announcing that team and other appointments in the coming weeks.
Brown said he has discussed the budget with numerous people and referenced his participation in budget workshops the past two years and will present a balanced budget to City Council on time. He intends to continue the workshops.
“The key is making sure the budget is balanced, having a budget that makes sense for the City so that taxpayers get a return on their investment,” said Brown.
One critical aspect Peyton said he discussed with Brown was the decision about who to surround himself with as mayor.
“Governing is a completely different experience from campaigning,” said Peyton. “Really finding those folks that can really bring a lot of talent to the table will be key to his success.”
Brown said he’d continue to “build on the foundation” of Peyton’s programs, such as the Jacksonville Journey to improve public safety and working with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
“If those things work, I will continue to do that,” said Brown.
As he begins to make the transition, though his margin of victory was slim, he said he didn’t believe the city was divided
“I’m a bridge builder,” he said. “I believe in bringing people together because government can’t do it alone and that’s the message. We can’t do it alone.”