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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 19, 200612:00 PM EST

Kerri Stewart, director of the City's Housing and Neighborhoods department

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

by Max Marbut

Staff Writer

Keri Stewart loves art.

”It adds color and life to the office. It just adds a nice personal touch to the office without putting up a lot of personal photographs. It says a little bit about who you are and for me, it expresses some of the local artists’ work. My life is very map-centric, so I have a lot of maps, too,”said Stewart, director of the City’s Housing and Neighborhoods Department.

Mayor John Peyton appointed Stewart executive director of the Jacksonville Housing Commission in March after she served in an interim capacity for four months.

“I was just here to keep the wheels on the bus. I really had no intention of staying,” said Stewart.

She was sent to the office to perform an audit of the Housing Commission when she was working in the mayor’s office.

”I got to see a lot of City departments while I was with the mayor’s office. This one resonated with me,” said Stewart. “I’m not a social worker. I think the less government intrusion into everyone’s lives, the better. I think the less government money spent per person, the better. I think government is here for basic infrastructure – for public safety, for roads, for drainage and for parks.

“However, sitting in this chair, I realized that housing is infrastructure. Without housing, economic development grinds to a halt, crime goes up and race relations deteriorate. School scores never go up when you have a transient population. I saw an opportunity to make some big changes.”

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