In his own words, the former Republican candidate for City Council and the recent Social Media Manager of the Bill Bishop Campaign weighs in on the upcoming mayoral runoff, giving insight into his experiences and his loyalty in a post-Bishop race. Eyepopping essay by the Jville original: Jesse Leigh Wilson
I am a product. A product of the decisions made by policy makers. As a survivor of the Florida Foster Care system, the actions of those in charge have long affected and shaped who I am and who I will become.
I have long advocated for the voiceless in Jacksonville and Tallahassee. Through my time with the advocacy group Florida Youth SHINE and Florida’s Children First I was able to see many great pieces of legislation become law. After many years of doing this work and working with both sides of the political aisle, I have come to the conclusion that the Democratic Party more often supports the development and inclusion of all people. The democrats believe in opportunity for all, regardless of demographic or status.
During my time in Tallahassee I came to admire and respect many democratic leaders such as George Sheldon and Nan Rich. These individuals worked with the youth in the system and because of them and many others like them, better outcomes are happening. They are leaders who inspired me to want to do the same. They instilled in me the desire and goal to be a public servant.
The last year taken me closer to that goal. From announcing my bid for a city council seat last February, to stepping away from that dream and supporting Bill Bishop in his run for mayor, to being ejected from the Duval REC meeting, I couldn’t have written it any better.
Now comes the next chapter in that journey.
I have been a registered and loyal Republican since the age of 18. The reason for that is because, like many of us, I automatically believed what my parents believed, didn’t really question it, and supported almost blindly. I was actively involved with the Jacksonville Young Republicans and served with the Florida Federation of Young Republicans as a Regional Chair for some time. I was sold on candidates for the mere reason they were Republican.
I regret voting for and supporting candidates that have failed the ones that need them most.
The time has come for me to step away from the politics of my parents and embrace my own beliefs. The older and wiser I’ve got, the more I’ve wanted to distance myself from the Republican Party. A party so out of touch with the issues of today, with the issues of the next generation, with the issues of the most vulnerable. I was once hopeful for the Republican Party but no longer believe they are able to move this country in the direction it must go.
So, following my heart, I am proud to announce that I have officially switched my party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. I have met with leaders of the local democrat delegation and am beyond thrilled to get started in supporting the best candidates to move Jacksonville forward.
Because of these reasons, I am proud to endorse Mayor Alvin Brown for re-election.
Under Mayor Brown’s leadership, 36,000 new jobs have been created in Jacksonville. Additionally, a national publication recently named Jacksonville as the “Best U.S. City to Start a Business,” and Forbes magazine has consistently ranked Jacksonville among the top five cities in the country to find a job.
Under Mayor Brown’s direction economic development has been streamlined and unemployment has been cut in half.
Under Mayor Brown’s guidance, the Downtown Investment Authority was created, revitalization projects are ongoing downtown, and visitors are up 200,000.
Under Mayor Brown, we have seen expanded diversity among city hall’s leadership.
These are just a few highlights of the great success our mayor has had. With our support he will be able to achieve much more. I love this city more every day and am thrilled at the progress it has seen the past four years. It frightens me to think about a man like Lenny Curry coming in without a clear plan and halting so much of the success that has happened the last four years. The Republican Party is clearly divided on him as well, as is evident by the over-reach for an endorsement by the REC and the non-endorsement from former Republican opponent Bill Bishop.
I urge all citizens to rally behind Mayor Brown and not let the intolerance of the Republican Party win. The progress we wish to see cannot afford four years of Lenny Curry.
Jesse Leigh Wilson