Jacksonville residents support construction of a new jail and are positive about the job Mayor Donna Deegan and Sheriff T.K. Waters are doing, according to University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab Poll Jax Speaks Poll released Sept. 18.
The poll of 511 registered voters was conducted Sept. 12-15.
Asked if they would support or oppose spending an estimated $380 million of public funds for three to five years on a new Duval County Jail and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office administrative offices away from Downtown, 52% said they would support building a new jail, with 27% strongly supporting and 26% somewhat supporting; 40% expressed opposition, with 13% somewhat opposing and 27% strongly; and 8% said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
“The relatively high support for moving the jail and JSO offices away from downtown given the large estimated $380 million price tag is rather surprising,” said Michael Binder, Public Opinion Research Lab faculty director, in a news release.
Job approvals for local officials also were included in the survey, including the mayor, sheriff, City Council and state attorney.
• Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan garnered 47% saying they approve of the job she’s doing, either strongly or somewhat, with 14% disapproving and 40% said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
• Sheriff T.K. Waters found 64% saying they approve of the job he’s doing, 15% disapprove and 20% said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
• State Attorney Melissa Nelson had 31% approval with 13% disapproving and 56% either didn’t know or refused to answer.
• Jacksonville City Council had 39% of respondents approving, 30% disapproving and 31% who didn’t know or refused to answer.
“Inside her first 100 days in office, Mayor Deegan’s approval is 32 percentage points higher than her disapproval, putting her well above water, even if a sizable group of voters aren’t sure yet,” Binder said. “With almost a year in office, T.K. Waters has had more opportunity to make an impression—and it’s clearly a good one—with high approval ratings across party lines.”
When asked their opinions about the city removing all Confederate monuments from public spaces, 50% of respondents said they strongly or somewhat support removal, 42% saying they oppose the removal either strongly or somewhat and 8% said they didn’t know or refused to answer.
“In previous surveys we’ve seen a much more even split on the issue of Confederate monuments, but support for removal seems to be increasing,” Binder said. “As you’d expect, this is largely split along party lines with 77% of Democrats in support and 73% of Republicans opposed.”
City’s biggest issue
Crime is the most important issue facing the city, followed by housing costs and improved transportation, according to the poll findings.
“Crime has historically been the biggest problem in past PORL surveys, so it’s no surprise to see it at the top of the list,” Binder said. “While it may not be among the top issues, homelessness seems to be an emerging concern for Duval voters too.”
The polling group comprised 39% Democrats, 35% Republicans and 26% nonparty affiliation. The margin of error is 4.8%