The Cawton Report: Race for council vice president has three hopefuls

Danny Becton, Tommy Hazouri and Scott Wilson seeking position.
By: 
May. 17, 2018

City Council member Sam Newby has dropped out of the council vice president’s race. 

In a statement Tuesday, Newby said he wants to focus on his At-Large Group 5 seat re-election campaign. 

“The prospect for serving as council vice president is very appealing, but at this time I want to hone in on my current responsibilities,” Newby said.

“Additionally, this time will equip me with more knowledge and the freedom to fully commit to this role next year,” he said. 

That leaves Danny Becton, Tommy Hazouri and Scott Wilson as candidates in a race for vice president that culminates Tuesday City Hall. 

Danny Becton

None of the three has secured more than one commitment from their colleagues. Ten votes are required to win. 

There is no uncertainty in the council president’s race. With 13 pledges, current council Vice President Aaron Bowman is all but certain to ascend.

His successor as vice president is not clear.

Becton is completing his first term as the District 11 representative in South Jacksonville and is vice chair of the Finance Committee. 

“I really think I have all the tools in the toolbox,” Becton said. “I have taken on a lot of roles that have given me such a wealth of experience.” 

Becton has served two years on the Finance Committee and three years on the Land Use and Zoning Committee, which he chaired in 2016-17.

He described his leadership style as “balanced and professional.” 

Hazouri, who holds the At-Large Group 3 seat, is a former Jacksonville mayor, state representative and school board member. He’s the only Democrat in the race. 

“I understand the needs of the city,” Hazouri said. “I think I’ve demonstrated over the years my commitment in helping move Jacksonville forward.” 

Tommy Hazouri

Hazouri said he’ll work well with Bowman, the administration and his peers.

“I think I can enhance those relationships, no matter the party, no matter the issues they have,” he said. 

Wilson, the District 4 representative whose area covers part of South Jacksonville, is running for the second time. His 2017 bid gained just five votes. 

“You know, you put yourself out there and sometimes it doesn’t work,” he said. 

“I’m willing to serve if my colleagues feel like I’ll do a good job,” Wilson said. “I’m confident in my knowledge and what I’ve accomplished, both on council and before that.” 

Scott Wilson

Wilson has worked on the fourth floor of City Hall since 2007, having spent eight years on staff. He is nearing the end of his first term on the council. He chaired LUZ in 2015-16.

“I think I’m as prepared as anyone could be to take on this role,” he said. 

An underlying theme of the race is who could become president in 2019, which is an election year when at least eight new council members will join the group because of term limits. 

“I have the temperament and knowledge to help them learn and grow in those roles,” Wilson said. 

Becton said the new class needs someone with knowledge of every district. 

“I’m very well-rounded in everything that goes on at City Hall,” Becton said. 

Hazouri said the vice presidency is not unlike his role as an at-large council member, which he said will help the group.  

“If I’m elected vice president, I’ll do what I’ve done my entire career in public office and that’s to listen, to learn and to lead,” he said. 

Keeping with tradition, Bowman says he’ll disclose who he’s backing on Election Day – Tuesday at 3 p.m. inside Council Chambers at City Hall.