Four City Council members who represent Northwest Jacksonville have formed a voting bloc that has given them considerable influence to help solve long-standing issues in their hardscrabble districts, like crime, poverty and a lack of infrastructure.
After helping swing the recent race for the council president, Katrina Brown, Reginald Brown, Garrett Dennis and Reginald Gaffney will each sit on the council’s Finance committee, a seven-member group that helps build the city’s budget and reviews all other city spending.
Their districts together form Jacksonville’s northwest quadrant, home to some of the city’s most underprivileged neighborhoods. Many residents and activists in those districts, which are a majority African-American, believe City Hall has neglected them while helping other parts of the city flourish.
“You’re talking about areas in the heart of the city that have basically received the least attention since consolidation,” said Reginald Brown, referring to the 1967 vote to form Jacksonville’s consolidated government. “If you look at the social ills that plague this city, we’re high on the list for everything.”
Brown’s sentiment is hardly new. Former council members of those districts have cooperated in the past, but the group’s recent decision to unify as a loose voting bloc has helped create the first African-American majority on the Finance committee.