The Donna Foundation founder and former First Coast News journalist Donna Deegan says she’s running for Jacksonville mayor.
She announced her candidacy Nov. 9 on WJCT 89.9 FM talk show First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.
WJCT is a news partner of the Daily Record.
Deegan is the first Democrat to file for a 2023 mayoral run, an office that is nonpartisan.
She told Ross that running for mayor “felt like a way to make the most impact in our community.”
She told Ross that she doesn’t see enough of a focus from the city on small business investment. Deegan said she wants to provide local entrepreneurs with more access to local, state and federal grant funding and promote organized business districts to leverage dollars.
“It seems like everything goes to the big companies, the big developers,” Deegan said.
“And look, I am not in any way opposed to providing incentives for companies to come here. But those have to be companies that reflect our values, companies that value diversity and that value the same things that we want and make the type of Jacksonville we need.”
Deegan said her campaign also will focus on the city’s infrastructure needs and regaining influence in public health policy that she said is centralized in the Florida capital.
Deegan spent 24 years as an anchor for First Coast News at WTLV/WJXX-TV and founded The Donna Foundation in 2003 — a nonprofit that offers financial assistance to breast cancer patients.
The foundation hosts an annual race fundraiser, The DONNA Marathon and The DONNA 5K.
This is Deegan’s second attempt at political office. She lost a run for U.S. House District 4 in November 2020 to incumbent Republican Rep. John Rutherford, 61.1% to 38.99%.
In response to her announcement, Duval GOP Chair Dean Black issued this statement Nov. 9:
“Only one year removed from her disastrous run for Congress, failed politician Donna Deegan clearly views the Office of Mayor as a consolation prize. Deegan is easily the most liberal candidate for Mayor in our history: anti-police, pro-taxes, and radical values.
“Being a far-left activist and commentator does not qualify you to lead the largest city in Florida. The people of Jacksonville deserve a real Mayor – not one who plays one on TV.”
Deegan responded to Black’s comments on WJCT by defending her performance in the U.S. House race in what she considers a “heavily gerrymandered district” with Democrats making up about one-third of the electorate.
“I will tell you here with great confidence, this is not any sort of a consolation prize or stepping stone or anything for me,” Deegan said.
“This will be the last office for which I run. If I am fortunate enough to get the votes of the people of Jacksonville, I’ll run for a second term probably. But I certainly do not look at this as any sort of career politician beginning,” she said.
The Democrat joins a field of Republican mayoral candidates who filed for the 2023 race, including City Council members Matt Carlucci and Al Ferraro.
JAX Chamber President and CEO Daniel Davis also is widely expected to run and his state-level Building a Better Economy political committee raised more than $2.5 million by the end of August, according to an Oct. 7 report by Florida Politics.
Council member LeAnna Cumber also is considering a run, according to Florida Politics.
Deegan is scheduled to make an official announcement at 11 a.m. Nov. 9 at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Springfield.