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Holland proposes new offices for Elections

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Holland to run for elections supervisor

Council said it was OK, but state leaders disagreed. Appeal court to get say.

By MATT GALNOR

The Times-Union

An election date hasn't even been set, but the first of an expected handful of candidates jumped in the race to become Duval County's next supervisor of elections.

Jacksonville City Councilman Jerry Holland, a Republican, announced Friday he'll be running when a special election is held sometime in the next six months. An election date has not been set.

Holland, 50, will have to resign from his council seat 10 days before qualifying for the supervisor race, and another special election will be held to fill Holland's council seat.

John Stafford, who missed most of the year with health problems, resigned his post as elections supervisor on Monday -- two weeks before the general election. Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Jacksonville lawyer Bill Scheu as the interim replacement. Scheu said he will not run in the special election.

Holland, a contractor who owns his own homebuilding and real estate companies, was first elected to the council in 1999. Holland has been able to raise plenty of money and was heavily supported by the development community in his two successful council campaigns.

Stafford's term ends in June 2007.

Holland said he has been meeting with Stafford, also a Republican, weekly for several months and added Stafford is supporting his candidacy. Stafford, who is hospitalized, could not be reached for comment.

Holland said he wants to relocate the downtown elections office and the office's Westside warehouse to one location with more parking, which he knows will be expensive.

"We have deficiencies there and if we're serious about correcting them, we have to be serious about funding them," Holland said.

Holland also said he wants to put an early voting site in each of the 14 council districts, wants at least one touch-screen machine in all 285 precincts and would try to get more voter education programs in local schools to encourage teens to vote.

Various names have been floated as possible candidates for the job that pays about $119,000 a year, including two of Holland's colleagues, Suzanne Jenkins and Faye Rustin, both Republicans. They were on a leadership trip to San Diego Friday and could not be reached for comment.

State Rep. Stan Jordan and former economic development chief Mike Weinstein, also Republicans, said this week they were considering it.

Former Councilman Warren Jones, a Democrat who lost to Stafford in 1999, also said Friday he was considering a run.

^^ This brings up several potential scenarios. The existing office is located on Monroe street. It takes up 1/2 of the Monroe-Ocean-Adams-Newnan block. Their half of the block is about 50% parking.

I don't know how big the warehouse they have is, but I would say it would be impossible or too expensive to obtain the remainder of that block to expand the existing office. Plus any additional parking would probably have to be in a garage, which is costly too.

If the elections office moved to an entirely new location, perhaps they would look at LaVilla or Brooklyn or elsewhere downtown. Also, what would happen to the vacated office? It would be an excellent location for a full-block residential/retail project. Possibly retail and garage entrance on the ground level topped by a 5-20 floors of residential. Offices might work on the lower levels also. The garage could be in the core of the building and not really visible from the streets. This particular block is ideally situated to try to help "stitch together" the urban core with the cathedral district.

This also brings to mind that the city started procedures a couple of years back to take the building at Duval & Laura through eminient domain. They were going to put additional city offices in there. In particular the current city hall annex ones. I have heard nothing since. The money to obtain the building had been set aside but the money for renovations was not included in that initial amount. BTW, that building is a Klutho and was originally the YMCA. Anyone have any info on that?

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^I haven't heard anything on that building lately. If the city decides to use it for more offices, I hope they at least reserve some space on the ground floor for retail. I don't want Hemming Plaza to become nothing but institutions, with no retail/residential.

It would be nice to have the Elections Office relocated. It's a prime spot in downtown, and I'd like to see more projects popping up there.

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The FY05 Budget included money for the old Haverty's building at Duval and Laura.

As Far as the supervisor of elections office, I think the current location is terrible, as far a urban design goes. With that said, I'd still hate to see it leave downtown.

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The FY05 Budget included money for the old Haverty's building at Duval and Laura.

As Far as the supervisor of elections office, I think the current location is terrible, as far a urban design goes.  With that said, I'd still hate to see it leave downtown.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Was this money to purchase the building or for the renovation work?

I would EXPECT the elections office to stay somewhere downtown, but it might be an issue in the special election.

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