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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, May 22, 201804:49 PM EST

Jacksonville City Council elects Bowman, Wilson leaders

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Aaron Bowman unanimous for president; Scott Wilson wins vice president in 10-9 vote.
by: David Cawton Staff Writer

City Council members elected Aaron Bowman as council president and Scott Wilson as vice president Tuesday.

Bowman represents District 3, comprising the Intracoastal West area of Jacksonville. 

“I can’t tell you the honor it is to have your support,” Bowman said after the 19-0 vote to elect him.

Scott Wilson was elected vice president in a 10-9 vote.

“I’ve got excitement beyond belief, but also there’s a lot of uneasiness there,” Bowman said. “Knowing that you’re about to do something that very few people have done and everyone is watching you.” 

Bowman is senior vice president of JAXUSA Partnership, the business development arm of the JAX Chamber. Through his role with JAXUSA, Bowman is directly involved in business recruitment and economic development.

Lori Boyer nominated Bowman, saying teamwork would be the foundation for his term.

“He knows how to manage process and people, both key to the role of president,” said Boyer, noting his military experience as commanding officer of Naval Station Mayport. 

“We would be well-served with Aaron as our council president, and I encourage you to support him,” Boyer said. 

Reggie Gaffney seconded the nomination.

“Aaron is proven leader,” Gaffney said. 

With 13 pledges of support from his colleagues secured before the leadership vote, Bowman’s ascension to the office was expected. His election was unanimous.

“It’s all about teamwork, it’s about council, the administration the entire city working together,” Bowman said. 

Bowman acknowledged “challenges” between council leadership and the administration, saying that “we need to do better.” 

Wilson, who represents District 4 in South Jacksonville, was victorious after a failed attempt at the vice presidency in 2017.

The race for council vice president was less clear before Tuesday afternoon.

Wilson, Danny Becton, Tommy Hazouri and Sam Newby all expressed interest in the post. Newby backed out Thursday followed by Hazouri on Tuesday.  

Wilson and Becton banked commitments Tuesday, but not enough before the meeting to secure a win. 

Jim Love first nominated Becton, with Katrina Brown giving a second. 

Love noted Becton’s professional and public office accomplishments, calling him a highly qualified candidate. 

Brown called Becton a “solutions guy” that “will look at the issues at hand and not the people.” 

Greg Anderson nominated Wilson with Hazouri seconding. 

“Mr. Wilson brings a breath of fresh air to leadership,” Anderson said.  

Anderson said Wilson is a servant for the community “and will be a fair-minded servant and leader for this council.”

Hazouri said Wilson “has the ability to build bridges.”

 “I know Scott will work in tandem with the council president and leave no district behind,” Hazouri said. 

Council members voted 10-9 in favor of Wilson. 

Anderson, Bowman, Boyer, Doyle Carter, John Crescimbeni, Bill Gulliford, Hazouri, Joyce Morgan and Matt Schellenberg backed Wilson, along with his own vote. 

Council President Anna Lopez Brosche, Katrina Brown, Reggie Brown, Garrett Dennis, Al Ferraro, Gaffney, Love and Newby voted for Becton. He voted for himself.

“I realize I have a lot to learn,” Wilson said. “I promise not to be out front and be behind the council president.” 

Wilson spent the last council year as the vice chair of the Rules Committee and as floor leader during council meetings. He chaired the Land Use and Zoning Committee in 2015-16. 

He also spent eight years on staff in the council offices and has worked in roles with the city of Jacksonville since he was 18.

He is serving his first term as a district council member. 

Bowman said he’ll work on a strategic plan and invite his colleagues to suggest two or three items they believe are important to set an agenda for the next three years. 

“We’re getting ready to lose half of our council members, maybe more, and it’s not right for a new council to come in and try to start from scratch,” he said, referring to term limits.

Bowman said he’ll have more information soon.

The win for Bowman also is a return to tradition for the council, which historically sees the vice president move into the presidency the following year. 

In 2017, Brosche bucked that tradition by beating out then-council Vice President Crescimbeni. 

Bowman and Wilson are not expected to serve on any committees when the new council year begins July 1. 

Bowman wouldn’t disclose who he’ll select to chair council committees. He said previously the names and charges of those committees will remain in place.

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