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One-on-one with mayoral candidate Donna Deegan

First Coast News is sitting down with the candidates aiming to lead the city of Jacksonville. In the coming days, you'll hear from seven of those men and women.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab released its poll results for the Jacksonville mayoral race. It shows Donna Deegan ahead of her opponents by 17 points. She says regardless of what the polls say it's going to come down to who turns out to vote.

She tells First Coast News her focus is on 'the people.'

"I bring a people focused perspective," said the former news anchor and breast cancer awareness advocate. Deegan believes that's what sets her apart in the crowded field.

"I led my foundation for almost 20 years," Deegan said. "I built that foundation. I built the relationships, the partnerships, the sponsorships. I know how to vision and bring people to coalesce around a vision and I know how to put the right people on the bus to make that happen."

The former congressional candidate aims to be the first woman to lead the city of Jacksonville. 

"I'm a 5th generation Jacksonville native I have seen it all Keitha," Deegan said sitting in her living room with Good Morning Jacksonville Anchor, Keitha Nelson. "And we have been stuck in the same ruts decade after decade in this city." 

Change For Good is her platform with a focus on infrastructure, health and economy.  

"We have kicked the can down the road on infrastructure in this city for decades," Deegan said. "Especially for our older neighborhoods. Especially for those neighborhoods on the north and northwest side. But even if we're talking about downtown or the beaches or San Marco, if we don't take care of our public infrastructure businesses aren't going to want to come set up here. And frankly we're going to have a lot of places underwater."

In terms of funding the city's infrastructure needs Deegan points to funds that haven't been touched in the past, that she would take advantage of.

"We have left hundreds of millions of grant money on the table over the years in this city usually for political reasons," Deegan said. "Whoever is in the White House or not in the White House I don't care. I want to go get our tax dollars back in this city and I want to use them to make our city better."

Keitha Nelson: Let's talk about the Jacksonville Sheriff's office and their funds. Do you want to increase their funds, decrease it or perhaps put the money into other agencies? 

"As a mayor there is literally nothing more important than the safety and health of the community," Deegan said. "It looks to me like we need more police officers. So if we need to bring in more police officers we should."

A recently released UNF poll shows Deegan as the front-runner. She's stayed clear of the mudslinging we've seen other campaigns engaged in.

"We need to stop using fear-based tactics with people," Deegan said. "I think you over the long haul get a lot more when you show respect for people than you do when you try to scare them to death... My hope is people are tired of the food fight, and they're ready for a grownup to lead." 

Other important topics covered during Deegan's interview include her plans to create better health care access, funding stadium renovations, and the removal of Confederate monuments in Jacksonville. To view the full interview with mayoral candidate Donna Deegan check out our First Coast News+ app.

**Donna Deegan is the wife of First Coast News meteorologist Tim Deegan. Tim is not involved in any of FCN's political coverage.

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