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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jul. 26, 201708:52 AM EST

Past council presidents meet Brosche

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Pension, incentives, term limits, demolition and bridge lights among the topics.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche met on Monday with those who’ve gone before her.

The Former Council Presidents, an informal group that meets monthly to talk about city issues, invited Brosche to talk about her plans and ambitions for the next 12 months. 

For many, it was the first time meeting the new president in person. 

“I think she made a very good impression,” said former council member Eric Smith, a Jacksonville lawyer who served twice as council president.

Brosche fielded questions that included pension reform and balancing council needs with those of the mayor.

The group includes others with experience or association with the city’s history.

Cecilia Bryant Lipsey, daughter of former Florida Gov. Farris Bryant, asked about providing incentives to companies like Amazon.com to move to Jacksonville. 

“I support economic development and bringing more jobs to Jacksonville,” said Brosche. 

Other issues centered on Curry’s proposed $1.275 billion budget released last week. 

“How close is the mayor’s budget with what you want to do?” asked former council president and current Property Appraiser Jerry Holland. 

“It’s pretty much in line with what he promised during his campaign and from what we’ve seen out of the administration over the last two years,” Brosche responded. “There’s a lot in there.” 

Former council president Bill Bishop asked how appropriate it was for the city to pledge $8.4 million for upgrades at Edwards Waters College, something Brosche said was the mayor’s priority.

“The council will be looking at everything in the budget, I assure you,” she said.  

When asked if she supported legislation calling for longer term limits for elected officials, Brosche said, “I am not afraid of putting that in the hands of the voters to decide.” 

Smith said he and several others appreciated Brosche’s candor when she didn’t know the answer to a specific question, like when she was asked when the old Duval County Courthouse and city hall buildings would be demolished or if multicolored lighting would return to the Main Street Bridge. 

Smith said he tried to convey an important lesson from his days on council to Brosche, “that we never waited for marching orders from the mayor’s office to get something done.” 

He said Brosche seems to agree.

“She’s an exceedingly talented person and someone who brings some much-needed skills to the office in terms of balancing power,” he said. 

The group met at the Mudville Grille in St. Nicholas. More than 30 people, including current council member Jim Love, attended.

Smith said it’s not always easy for a newcomer to take on the past presidents’ group, which has a long history in Jacksonville’s political scene. 

“We’re a tough crowd,” Smith said. 

“But she handled herself extremely well in that situation.”

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