JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With early voting underway in Jacksonville's city elections, we are profiling the seven candidates for the office of mayor so you can be informed before casting your ballot.
This is a spotlight on Frank Keasler Jr.
As a lifelong Jacksonville resident and father of four, Frank Keasler Jr.’s roots run deep in Jacksonville. He says the city needs a mayor who will galvanize the public and keep a closer watch on our city's finances.
As a CPA , capital consultant and former lawyer, he describes the Jacksonville city budget as a wreck and disorganized.
"I’ve never been challenged so hard to understand where the money is going than the budget for our city of Jacksonville," Keasler tells First Coast News' Katie Jeffries during their interview.
Keasler says one of his first orders of business as mayor would be to make the budget more transparent and look for wasted money, so that can be re-invested into things like schools and city parks.
When it comes to public safety, Keasler is recommending his “21st Sentry” model that would combine law enforcement, fire, EMT and mental health and create an education curriculum for the 'College of Sentinel Science, Technology, Operations and Procedures'.
"Every one of them [law enforcement] would have at least one semester of training in the other three disciplines: mental health, emergency medical and fire, if you are a policeman," says Keasler.
Some of his ideas would require major changes like instead of electing a sheriff, he would like to see people elect a Director of Public Safety to a four-year term. He says he would propose it through a “Freedom Charter” for the city in the 2024 elections. Although, the Florida state constitution requires each county to have an elected sheriff.
When it comes to paying for stadium renovations, Keasler says it is great for the city to invest in something that brings people in, but the city needs to get its money back eventually.
"First of all we are going to look at the deal and then the deal we do, whatever it is, after the private equity, the sponsors participate- after y’all get X, we get Y," tells Keasler," And we get Y until we get our principal back."
Keasler also opposes removing confederate monuments.
"I think that it is absolute insanity to think there is credibility, wisdom, insight, advancement for humanity in us looking backwards at history and judging it," tells Keasler.
He says he has resisted negative campaigning because he promised the Lord he would not throw stones. Faith, a central piece of his messaging.
"I am not here for Frank Keasler, I am here for we the people. I am here for this nation that God shed his grace on, and I am not going down without a fight," he says.
For more of the interview with Keasler Jr., watch here.