Former Mayor, Tommy Hazouri joins MetroJacksonville for a guest article articulating why he is running for the City Council. Join us for his essay and ask him plenty of questions after the jump!
I was born and raised in Jacksonville. My three brothers and I grew up above our parent’s grocery store downtown. My interest in public service began at an early age, working in our corner grocery store, and watching how my mom and dad treated their customers. To them it was personal, and they treated their customers with respect and courtesy. That's how I look at public service. It's personal.
I'm running for City Council because we need experience now more than ever. Jacksonville needs a strong leader who is able to bring both sides together to tackle tough issues facing our city, including crime, economic development and education. With ten open Council seats, my experience is invaluable and I intend to hit the ground running on day one. I have a proven record of results of which I am very proud. As mayor, I got rid of the tolls on our bridges and roads and the obnoxious odor from the air. While I was Chair of the School Board, graduation rates increased. Now, I want to continue to work for the people of Jacksonville.
It's hard to focus on anything else if we don't feel safe in our neighborhoods. When I was Mayor, I put 251 police officers on the street and provided them with the resources they needed to get the job done. I pledged to do this during my campaign, and I followed through on that pledge. As your Councilman, I will work with the Council, Mayor and Sheriff on public safety initiatives that are essential to our quality of life. It is critical that we fund programs that positively affect at-risk youth like the Jacksonville Journey, the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, and Communities in Schools. There are so many issues facing our city right now, but I know one thing for sure: none of it matters if you and your family don’t feel safe. That is why public safety is my number one issue in this race.
Jacksonville is on the verge of becoming a truly modern Southeastern city. To continue to move vigorously forward, we must continue to attract new businesses, while keeping local businesses and talented individuals here. When I was Mayor, we won the fight to keep Maxwell House in Jacksonville, saving 380 jobs and $555 million for the local economy.
Jacksonville was rated among the top 50 cities in the Nation to do business and nearly 38,000 jobs were created during my four years as Mayor. I'm proud that USA Today rated us among the top 18 most fiscally sound cities in the nation. Going forward, we cannot make the mistake of allowing discriminatory policies plague our economic growth. With projects like the expansion of the port and downtown development, we have the opportunity to bring high paying jobs and countless opportunities to Jacksonville.
Quality education is essential to the progress of Jacksonville. An educated workforce attracts businesses and leads to a decline in crime and enhances our quality of life. New businesses won’t want to relocate here if their employees won’t be able to find good schools for their kids. I went to public school in Jacksonville and graduated from Andrew Jackson High School. Jackson gave me the tools needed to attend Jacksonville University and serve as Student Body President. My wife, Carol, taught at Crown Point Elementary School for 43 years, and our son, Tommy Jr., teaches at Kernan Elementary and is soccer and swimming coach at Kernan Middle School. As you can tell, quality education is viscerally important to me and my family, and I believe every child deserves an opportunity to succeed. We can continue the progress we’ve made in education with strong leadership. I’m ready to continue to work and advocate for education, safer neighborhoods and a stronger economy in our city.
I’m running for City Council because I see a prosperous Jacksonville within our reach, where every person and family can enjoy the quality of life they deserve.