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One-on-one with Leanna Cumber, Jacksonville mayoral candidate

She speaks candidly about the negative ads, the city council investigation, and how lowering crime involves proactive approaches.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When asked why she wants to mayor of Jacksonville, one of the first things Leanna Cumber said was, "This city is amazing."

She is a Jacksonville City council member, elected in 2019. 

She said, "I have a unique background to be mayor."

Her father, as a teenager, emigrated from Cuba.

She was a third and fifth grade teacher, she is a lawyer, and she owns an infrastructure financing firm.

Cumber wants to address basic infrastructure issues.

"When you go out of your home, you’re driving your car, you run into the potholes, you have sidewalks that are broken. You have streetlights that don’t work, these are quality of life issues," she told First Coast News

To pay for it, she’d re-direct the hundreds of millions of dollars from the Skyway to the basic infrastructure needs. For bigger projects such as 4-laning Normandy Boulevard, Cumber wants to aggressively go after state and federal funds.

She says Jacksonville’s biggest problem is crime. Cumber said the sheriff’s office should get the resources it needs and “we need to start looking at crime in a more proactive way."

For that, she points to her work on the city council to shut down illegal gambling cafés and a bill that raised the stripping age from 18 to 21. Cumber also says fighting crime needs to include maintaining better infrastructure and improving literacy rates.

Regarding the negative ads on television during this race, she and opponent Daniel Davis both have ads attacking each other. She says his ads ran first.

She told First Coast News that women often receive bad advice when running for office. "A lot of women are told to take the attacks and be positive and be nice. It's very bad advice for women. I’ve been working in domestic violence my whole life, and it’s the worst thing to say to a woman who’s being assaulted and attacked… to take it and be positive. Unfortunately, it was not the way we were going to run the campaign, but we were given no choice."

Cumber is also under investigation by the city council for not disclosing her husband’s role in the JEA sale process.

"What they’re doing in council was completely fed by Daniel Davis’ communications director and his consultant," she said. "So it is a complete weaponization of government. My colleagues know it."

Cumber said she did nothing wrong, that her husband was not "deeply involved" in the in the JEA bidding process. She says she did not reveal -- on a voluntary form -- her husband’s involvement because he was working with the the FBI to make sure "the case would stick."

"I would never want to stand it the way of the U.S. Attorneys in being able to put their case forward," Cumber told First Coast News. 

She believes the city is on the verge of great things, especially if she becomes mayor.

"We need to have someone run the city who understand business, has been in business," Cumber said. 

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