Two prominent Democrats want Gov. Ron DeSantis to send in the National Guard to help curb the gun violence in Jacksonville.
State Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, sent a letter to DeSantis asking for the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and the National Guard to help patrol high crime areas in Jacksonville, pointing out that the city has seen a rash of shootings, including two dozen murders, so far this year.
“The city is in a ‘State of Urgency,’” the Democrats insisted in the letter.
Gibson and Davis claimed that Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and the Duval County Sheriff’s Office have been “sitting on the sidelines too long.”
Responding to the letter, Sheriff Mike Williams says he isn’t asking for extra help right now. Curry and Williams are running for reelection this spring. One of Williams’ main campaign themes is that Jacksonville is a safer city under his leadership.
But not everybody sees the same way as Williams.
Republican City Councilwoman Anna Lopez Brosche, who’s is running against Curry in the mayoral race, says she appreciates Gibson’s and Davis’ call for drastic solutions to stop the bloodshed in Jacksonville.
Brosche calls the situation a public health crisis in the city and her campaign refers to the increase in violence as the “Curry crime wave.”
Some Jacksonville Democrats have said that the mayor and the sheriff have been MIA in addressing crime. Crime remains the biggest issue in the city, according to last week’s poll from the University of North Florida (UNF) which shows 62 percent of Jacksonville voters calling crime a major issue in the current election. The poll also shows Curry at 58 percent support, enough to win the first round of the election next month and avoid a runoff in May.
More people on the First Coast are against bringing in the National Guard than support it, than says local radio host Roger Henderson from WBOB talk radio.
Henderson pointed out that while the majority of callers said that crime was a major concern, many others said calling out the National Guard might not be the right course of action. Many First Coast residents also say calling for the National Guard is nothing more than a political move to embarrass Curry.
The mayor has called this a political ploy and Jacksonville City Councilman Matt Schellenberg agrees.
“Why, all of sudden, are Democrats asking for the National Guard to come into local cities to help fight crime?” Schellenberg asked. “If this is such a big concern, then how come Democrats aren’t asking for the National Guard to come into other high crimes areas in the state like Tallahassee, Pine Hills in Orlando or even South Florida?”
Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.