by Mike Sharkey
Four years ago, Daniel Davis ran for the District 12 City Council seat against Doyle Carter and was beaten soundly: 60 percent to 40. Today, he’s running again and Carter, the incumbent, isn’t.
“I’m very interested and I’m making my announcement today,” said Davis Tuesday morning. “I have set up my account and signed the intent to run.”
Carter announced earlier this week that he wasn’t going to seek a second term because he wanted to spend more time with his family and his business.
Local Republican Party chairman Tom Slade said Davis was the name he’d heard most consistently, but outside of him, Slade has no other viable candidates in mind. Davis’ entry also makes Slade’s schedule a little easier over the next several weeks, which includes lobbying in Tallahassee during the upcoming legislative session and stumping on behalf of Republican candidates battling for local offices.
“If Davis gets in, my recruiting job is over,” said Slade who, at one point, said he’d have to get out the voter registration polls from Dist. 12, which is on the Westside, in order to find potential candidates. Slade added that Davis represented as good a candidate as the Republican Party could hope to find to replace Carter.
“I have heard nothing but good things about Daniel Davis,” said Slade, adding he won’t exactly encourage any other Republicans to get in at this point. “It would depend entirely on who the other Republican was. If it was a lightweight, I would discourage them from running.”
Davis grew up in Jacksonville, graduated from Trinity Christian High School in 1991 and is currently the associate director of office management for the Northeast Florida Builders Association. Although he failed in his bid four years ago, Davis, 30, pointed out he was only 25 years old at the time, remained a supporter of Carter’s and stayed involved in politics from the periphery.
“I was supporting Carter and when he made the announcement he was not going to run, it changed everything. I’ve always been interested and wanted to serve Dist. 12,” said Davis, who intends to start campaigning immediately and also keep his position with the builders association. “Being on Council is a part-time job and I would not do this without the blessing of the builders association. The way I’m looking at it, I’m in the race, the flood gates are open and I’m going to run hard.”
It’s that infectious enthusiasm that pleases Slade as he looks at Davis as a potential long-time local politician. Slade says that Davis’ youth will work for him both during the campaign and throughout his political career.
“Sure, it’s great. There’s enough old people like me in politics,” said Slade. “It’s a great age to be on City Council. You have a huge amount of interest and a huge amount of energy. It’s the perfect age. As someone who was elected to the Florida House and Senate before they were 30, I can tell you it takes time to get the maturity you need. Thirty’s the perfect age to enter government.”
Local Democratic Party chair Clyde Collins acknowledged Carter’s decision opened the door for the Democrats to gain a seat on the Republican dominated Council.
“We are looking at it and talking to some people but I’m not able to divulge that now,” said Collins. “We’re always looking. We’re also looking at the Group 1 at-large race and Mike Hogan’s [Florida] House seat.”
Collins said even though Carter was a registered Republican, his politics often reflected Democratic ideals.
“In many respects, Doyle was a Democrat,” said Collins. “He is down to earth and he’s more concerned about construction workers as opposed to business executives.
“I think it’s a wide open seat that anybody can win. There’s not a whole lot of time, but in politics timing is everything. We’ve got a couple of people in mind.”
Qualifying for local elections starts Tuesday at noon and ends March 4 at noon. Until a couple of weeks ago, candidates could qualify by petition. Now, they can only qualify by paying the qualifying fee, which in the case of Council members, is $2,363.40.