Retirement has been quite busy for Dick Brown, the mayor of Neptune Beach.
After retiring as a regional community relations manager for BellSouth, he spent the next eight years on the Jacksonville City Council representing the Beaches district.
“I had already been the past chairman of the Beaches division of the Chamber,” said Brown, who has lived in Neptune Beach for 23 years. “I have been involved on the Chamber board downtown as well, so it seemed kind of natural to go onto the City Council.”
After his two terms on the Jacksonville City Council, he wasn’t looking for another office. But, one was literally right at his front door.
“There was a lot of dissension on the Neptune Beach City Council,” said Brown. “The mayor, George Vaughn, and the staff were at odds and a number of people felt that it was not in the best interest of the city to continue that, so they encouraged me to run. The more I thought about it, the more enthused I got.”
Today, his retirement again is on hold: he’s the mayor of Neptune Beach, the president of the Beaches Business Association and the president of the St. Johns River City Band.
Politics is in the family, too. His wife of 23 years, Elaine, is an at-large Jacksonville City Council member and a marketing director at Presentation Resource. Between them they have six children and five grandchildren.
John Meserve wanted to make a difference in his community, so he decided to get into politics.
About seven years ago, he wasn’t happy with what was happening in the local Atlantic Beach government, so he decided to get involved.
“The first reason was that I love the community,” said Meserve. “The second reason was that I run the biggest business in the community. So, when tax rates were changed and decisions were being made, it not only affected me personally, but my business in a big way. I went down and I didn’t get a good sense from the commission, so I decided to become a voting member.”
Meserve was stationed at Mayport while he was in the U. S. Navy. When he retired 15 years ago, he decided to live in Atlantic Beach.
He had done Chamber work while in the Navy and his work continued: he was named executive director of the Beaches division.
Then, he became the executive director of Fleet Landing, the retirement center.
“I run the facility and am the person in charge,” said Meserve. “We have about 600 residents and 280 employees.”
He has been married for 37 years to Mary, who used to work at University of North Florida, but is now a housewife. They have three children and three grandchildren.
You wouldn’t think ice cream and politics would go well together, but owning Dairy Queens in Atlantic Beach and Jacksonville Beach led Bob Marsden right to his political career.
“When you are in the Dairy Queen business, close to the schools and churches, you are always available to help them by giving them sodas, ice cream, cups and so forth,” said Marsden, who has been the mayor of Jacksonville Beach for five years. “You are kind of considered a super citizen because you are involved so much.”
Being a super citizen landed him on the Jacksonville Beach City Council.
“I served two terms and then dropped out. Then I ran again and was elected.”
His route to the mayor’s chair came through tragedy. He was the mayor pro tem and moved up when Bill Latham passed away in 1998. Since, he has been elected on his own.
Being mayor is his main duty: he sold the Dairy Queens about six years ago and is now retired.
He’s also close to the Chamber: in 1976, he was president of the Beaches Area Chamber of Commerce.
He has been married to Jackie, a volunteer at Beaches Baptist Hospital, for 53 years and has lived in Jacksonville Beach for 32 years. He and his wife like to travel and his office is decorated with souvenirs from all of their travels. They have two children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.