Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brown Close to a Sure Thing to Gain Council Presidency

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brown Close to a Sure Thing to Gain Council Presidency

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT GALNOR, The Times-Union

For the vice president of the Jacksonville City Council, the spring months are spent looking over your shoulder, trying to keep a delicate house of cards from tumbling down.

The vice president typically ascends the following year to the presidency, known as the second most powerful position in City Hall. Rarely, however, does that ascension come without a challenge.

This year has seen its share of potential candidates -- some stealth and others not so stealth. Yet most on the council agree that when the 19 members vote Tuesday on their new leaders, council Vice President Elaine Brown is a sure thing.

At least as close to a sure thing one will find in the often cutthroat world of internal council politics. The role is so coveted because the president sets the agenda and handpicks committee leaders, who often control which bills are heard and which are shelved.

"I think she has the support and her support is strong, but I don't think it'll stop the people who don't support her from scheming and attempting a coup of some sort," said Councilman Reggie Fullwood, who was once in the race and is now backing Brown.

Brown, director of corporate relations for PRI Inc., a public relations and event planning firm, says she has signed commitments from 14 council members -- four more than needed to secure the presidency.

"Anything over 10 is really a luxury and makes you feel a little more confident," Brown said, smiling. "It looks pretty good."

Brown, 59, has had a folder full of signed pledges sitting in her desk drawer since February but hasn't had the benefit of physically keeping an eye on her competition.

She was forced out of action for a few weeks after two hip surgeries -- the first in February when she fell at a friend's house and the second in April after the initial surgery didn't completely solve the problem. …

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