CPA Anna Lopez Brosche and JAXUSA Partnership Senior Vice President Aaron Bowman will bring their financial and economic-development experience to City Council leadership when they take over as president and vice president in less than six weeks.
Brosche, the At-Large Group 1 representative, is the managing shareholder of Ennis, Pellum & Associates CPAs, which serves public and private companies.
District 3 council member Bowman, as JAXUSA senior vice president of business development, is involved in business recruitment and economic development, a role he said will be important during his time as vice president.
Both are Republicans.
“I think that it’s critical that we continue to grow as a city and continue to recruit business and make it better,” Bowman said.
Their first major test will be approving a city budget for the next fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, a budget in which the business community will have keen interest. Mayor Lenny Curry will present the proposed budget for council review and approval.
As this year’s chair of the council Finance Committee, Brosche said she’s “certainly equipped” to make her way through the budget process.
“It’s been helpful to understand the budget,” Brosche said. “Ultimately a city’s priorities are reflected in its budget.”
As far as the business community is concerned, Brosche said she’ll follow the mold set by current council President Lori Boyer and support the “bold initiatives” Curry has for the city.
“I’m thoughtful, collaborative and strategic in making sure that all the right people are at the table in making decisions and setting policy,” she said.
With pension reform approved, Bowman said he believes it’s the perfect time for the council to become creative with new-business recruitment as well as finding ways to keep area university graduates in town.
JAXUSA is the economic-development division of JAX Chamber.
“I have a 19-year old child, who I want to stay here when he enters the workforce,” Bowman said. “I want him to know that he has all the opportunities to live and work in this city, without having to move away.”
Another big decision for Brosche will be appointing chairs to the council committees, especially finance, land use and zoning, which vet the major issues and projects proposed for the city.
She said she won’t rush that decision.
“I want to make sure that I hear from my colleagues and their interests,” she said. “It’s very important that they serve in an area that they’re interested in.”
Brosche is heading into the third year of her first term. She was elected to council in 2015. Brosche is a resident of the Murray Hill neighborhood.
They were elected to the leadership Tuesday.
Brosche beat out council veteran and current Vice President John Crescimbeni, a Democrat representing At-Large Group 2.
The vote was tight heading into the Tuesday afternoon election, with three votes uncertain.
On Monday, Republican Danny Becton said he was backing Brosche, giving her nine pledged votes heading into Tuesday, with 10 needed to win.
Brosche eventually secured an 11-8 win over Crescimbeni as last-minute pledges from Democrats Reggie Gaffney and Reggie Brown came through.
Republicans Bowman, Matt Schellenberg, Sam Newby and Doyle Carter along with Democrats Katrina Brown and Garrett Dennis backed her as well.
Crescimbeni was backed by Democrats Tommy Hazouri and Joyce Morgan, as well as Republicans Jim Love, Scott Wilson, Bill Gulliford and Greg Anderson.
Boyer also supported Crescimbeni.
Both candidates voted for themselves.
Crescimbeni held a pledge lead leading up to the election, but couldn’t muster support in the final week.
He has served 17 years on council – from 1991-99 and then returned in a special election in 2008. He was elected to a full four-year term in 2011 and was re-elected in 2015.
Typically the vice president is elected to the presidency.
For Brosche, the win is another advancement in city politics.
After her first year on the council, Brosche was selected by Boyer to chair the Finance Committee, considered one of the most important posts.
Her lack of council experience generated some questions about her ability as president, but she called that criticism a “convenient narrative to have when the person who is also running for president has a tremendous amount of experience.”
“I think it’s an opportunity for a fresh perspective from someone who isn’t entrenched in the process,” Brosche said. “To suggest that someone wouldn’t be successful without that experience is not a valid argument in my opinion.”
Brosche said she wants to build on Boyer’s success during the past year “in terms of structure and changes in the way that we work together.”
Boyer led council through a year of major legislation, including the controversial expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance, and pension reform.
Boyer also has been responsible for changing some of the mechanics of council.
Boyer, who declined to elaborate about her vote a day before the election, said the most important part of the job was making sure all 19 council members had the opportunity to present projects important to their districts.
“Whether you agree with their initiatives or not, your role is to make sure that every council member has an opportunity to advance whatever may be of interest or concern to them,” Boyer said.
She said some bills “fall flat on their face when they get to a council vote.”
“But everyone’s got a right to bring those issues up and suggest they’re good ideas for their constituents,” she said.
Rather than talk about her accomplishments, Boyer preferred to highlight council’s ability to work together through tough circumstances.
“As a collaborative body, as a legislative body, it’s really important that we work together,” she said. “Nineteen can be unyielding if there’s a lot of tension, so it’s important to keep that process cordial.”