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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Sep. 19, 200112:00 PM EST

Weinstein enters mayor's race

by: Mike Sharkey

He’s in.

Jacksonville Economic Development Commission executive director Mike Weinstein ended months of speculation that he would run for mayor in 2003 by announcing his candidacy Tuesday afternoon.

From the Southbank of the St. Johns River with downtown as a back drop, Weinstein announced that he would not only step down from his JEDC post as of Sept. 30, he would also relinquish his role as the president of the Super Bowl Host Committee, a position he will officially resign from Feb. 1.

Although Mayor John Delaney has said several times when asked about his successor that he did not want to discuss it and that he still had almost two years left on his term, Weinstein said he and Delaney have discussed the matter for the last six to eight months. However, it took last week’s devastating terrorist attacks to convince him the time was right to enter the race.

“Over the last few months I have given it thoughtful consideration,” said Weinstein. “I have talked with my family and weighed my options. I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as the Super Bowl Host Committee president and CEO. Both opportunities present challenges personally and professionally.

“I have come to realize the most important contribution I can make to Jacksonville would be to become mayor.”

Weinstein joins City Council member Alberta Hipps as the two most prominent people to enter the race for mayor. Others who figure to join the fray include Gate Petroleum vice president John Peyton, former mayor Tommy Hazouri and City Council members Jim Overton and Ginger Soud.

Weinstein’s decision leaves two gaping holes on Jacksonville’s leadership landscape. The task force formed to find his JEDC replacement is bringing in four candidates late this month and will no doubt have to use a local on an interim basis until the position can be permanently filled.

Fellow host committee members Peter Rummell and Tom Petway joined Weinstein at Tuesday’s press conference. Rummell said the host committee will immediately start searching for someone to take over as president and CEO, but they will not make a rash decision. Even though he’s stepping down as president, Weinstein — whether he wins the election or not — will remain an active member of the host committee which is in charge of assuring the 2005 Super Bowl meets and exceeds expectations.

“We expect Mike to continue to participate in this major Jacksonville event,” said Petway, a minority owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Weinstein has not filed paperwork with the Supervisor of Elections Office and he has yet to open a campaign account, the final two aspects of the candidacy process that will make him an official candidate. Also, Weinstein refused to talk about what his objectives would be, should he win the April 2003 election.

“There are a number of things above and beyond the Better Jacksonville Plan,” said Weinstein. “But, those are discussion to be had over the next 14, 16, 18 months.”

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