Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mayoral Election Results Will Say Much about City

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mayoral Election Results Will Say Much about City

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee, Times-Union columnist

In three days, Jacksonville will have a new mayor -- and some African-Americans may find themselves wondering whether they bargained away their advantage in making that decision a long time ago.

In the late 1960s, city leaders were pushing a plan to consolidate the city of Jacksonville and Duval County. But some black leaders warned that consolidating city and county wasn't simply a way to curtail corruption and waste, but a scheme to water down the black vote.

"At that time, the old city's population was 46 percent black," recalled former state Sen. Arnett Girardeau. "We had just started getting involved in voting, because the Civil Rights Act had just passed. We thought we had a good shot at getting a [black] mayor.

"Consolidation was done expressly for the purpose of diluting the black vote."

For some blacks, this mayoral contest between Democrat Nat Glover, who is black, and Republican John Peyton, who is white, has awakened such qualms.

Most of Peyton's primary votes came from mostly white areas on the Westside and Northside. Much of those areas were way outside of the city's boundaries back then. Then the two other candidates who got the lion's share of votes -- Matt Carlucci and Mike Weinstein, scored big on the Southside and Mandarin. Most of those areas were also outside of the old city as well.

Of course, consolidation didn't stop Glover from winning two terms as sheriff. But the results of this mayoral election, the first one that involves a well-known, serious black contender, will be revealing.

Because if Glover loses -- and if he loses in spite of high black turnout and an endorsement from a white candidate who crossed party lines -- then I have to wonder if Jacksonville will ever be ready for a black mayor.

Let's face it. …

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