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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jul. 12, 201805:20 AM EST

New council members to begin work

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Terrance Freeman and Ju’Coby Pittman appointed to fill in for officials facing fraud charges.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

City Council President Aaron Bowman will install new members Terrance Freeman and Ju’Coby Pittman to represent Districts 8 and 10 Thursday in a ceremony at City Hall.

They replace suspended council members Katrina Brown and Reginald Brown.

Gov. Rick Scott suspended them from office after they were indicted on federal fraud charges May 31.

Freeman, a Republican, takes over for Reginald Brown in District 10. Pittman, a Democrat, will represent District 8 in Katrina Brown’s absence.

Bowman said he is happy the appointments were made before council members return to work July 16 after the two-week summer legislative break.

“I think first and foremost, I’m glad we’re going to start out this council year with a full slate of 19 members,” he said. “I was worried we weren’t going to be able to pull that off.”

Bowman has assigned the new members to two council subcommittees each.

Pittman will serve on the Land Use and Zoning Committee and the Rules Committee.

Freeman will join the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee and the Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee.

Scott formally announced the appointments Tuesday morning after the Daily Record confirmed the selections Monday evening.

Residency concerns

Freeman is a former council aide to Bowman, and is currently a regional director for the Ygrene Energy Fund Jacksonville office.

As of Tuesday morning, he also was a resident of the Mandarin area, which is in District 6 in southeast Jacksonville.

His residency triggered questions about his eligibility to represent District 10, which comprises an area in northwest Jacksonville.

According to the city’s Office of General Counsel, Freeman is required to live in the district before being sworn in, and not at the time of Scott’s announcement.

Freeman secured residency in the district Tuesday night and by doing so, he also now has an opportunity to run for the seat in 2019.

The city charter requires candidates to be residents in the district they want to represent 183 days before the election qualifying period, which is Jan. 7 through Jan. 11.

Freeman could not be reached as of Wednesday.

Pittman sees opportunity

Pittman had no such issues establishing residency as she has two homes in District 8.

She is the CEO and president on the nonprofit Clara White Mission.

Tuesday, she expressed gratitude in being able to serve on council – a position that’s eluded her more than once.

Most recently, in 2015 she lost in a race against At-Large Group 5 representative Sam Newby.

“This is an opportunity for me to showcase my experience and my knowledge of the district and the needs of the residents,” said Pittman.

“I live in the district and I think I can bring new leadership and new ideas for the constituents,” she said.

Pittman said she wants to focus on jobs and programs for youth in the predominantly African-American district which covers most of Northwest Jacksonville.

“I want to be the voice for them on council, and to do that, I need to get other council members involved so we can create solutions,” she said.

She said the issues and disparities in the area “didn’t happen overnight,” and that residents should understand that “solutions aren’t going to happen overnight either.”

“But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get to work,” she said.

Pittman declined to comment on Katrina Brown’s and Reginald Brown’s federal indictments, other than to say it was a sad situation.

“I’m sorry the situation happened, but I’m not one to judge anyone,” she said. “It needs to play out.”

Pittman also is hoping the next year provides momentum for a run for the permanent seat in 2019.

“I’m all in,” she said. “I’m ready to go.”

 

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