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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, May 4, 201612:00 PM EST

Race tightens for council VP

Candidates racing to reach 10 votes
by: David Chapman

As the date gets closer to a City Council leadership vote, so does the race to become the next vice president.

Veteran council members Doyle Carter and John Crescimbeni are the two remaining candidates of four who initially entered the race.

And they’re now separated by just a single pledge, with Crescimbeni having seven commitments to Carter’s six.

The first to 10 wins.

Efforts to secure the position have sporadically taken place over the past four months, with public meetings scheduled between members and candidates on the internal campaign trail.

Along the way, Aaron Bowman and Matt Schellenberg both dropped out as candidates.

Bowman ended up pledging to Carter.

Schellenberg followed suit Tuesday afternoon in a meeting that took all of three minutes.

“I want to be on the winning side,” Schellenberg told Carter.

But before Schellenberg signed a commitment letter, he wanted to know how Carter was going to win.

Carter gave the easy answer.

“I’m going to get 10 votes,” he said, smiling.

Earlier in the day, Crescimbeni sat at the same table to talk about his candidacy with council member Reggie Gaffney.

It went noticeably longer than three minutes, with Gaffney asking a bevy of questions — much like he did in a recent meeting with Carter.

Where do you stand on Downtown development? Crescimbeni said it should be among top priorities like public safety and employee pay raises.

How do you feel about divvying up money for council district projects? Crescimbeni has been for it in the past and would be again.

What’s your relationship like with Mayor Lenny Curry and his administration? Pretty good, Crescimbeni thinks.

Then there was the rumor. Gaffney said he’d heard Crescimbeni was the person who told the media about the texting issue that took place on the final night of council approving the budget.

The issue arose after several council members were texting with fire union head Randy Wyse about pulling money from drainage projects to keep fire department positions funded.

The exchanges resulted in a public records lawsuit against several members.

Crescimbeni, though, said he was almost in the same position.

“I was this close to being in the same spot,” he said, holding up his fingers with a narrow gap between them.

And as for the rumor he said, it was “flat out incorrect.”

That was satisfactory to Gaffney.

However, while the meeting ended in a handshake, it didn’t end in a signed pledge.

Gaffney said he wanted to schedule another meeting next week for his decision.

It means Crescimbeni remains three votes away.

He later said he felt comfortable with where the race was, but couldn’t remember seeing one go this late in the calendar. Council is scheduled to vote May 24.

Crescimbeni attributes the tight race to 11 new members having to learn about each candidate in their first year and it being a new process for them. Having four candidates in the race didn’t help, either.

Crescimbeni and Carter plan on having one-on-one meetings with the remaining six members to try and lock down votes.

Carter said he’s seen races go down to the wire. And as for this year, he chalks it up to something pretty simple.

“We have two great candidates,” he said.

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