Racially motivated mass shooting renews push for Jacksonville Chief of Diversity and Inclusion

Just two days prior to the racially motivated mass shooting that claimed the lives of three Black Jacksonville residents, a city council committee pulled funding for the mayor’s Chief of Diversity and Inclusion.


Finance Committee members cited fiscal responsibility and a 28 percent increase in the mayor’s budget when they voted to nix the $232,000 intended to fund the new position.

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But after this weekend’s racist violence, which claimed the lives of three Black residents in New Town, Mayor Donna Deegan is hoping the council reconsiders.

“We know that sort of, you know, quilting together the communities that are part of Jacksonville to make them feel like they are more a part of this city and to make our city exactly as it should be, you need that position,” Deegan said.

The committee decided to redirect the funds to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission and the Public Works Department, suggesting they serve a similar purpose.

RELATED STORY: Funding for Mayor Deegan’s new Chief of Diversity and Inclusion nixed by council committee

But Councilmember Matt Carlucci (R-Group 4 At-Large) argued the roles are completely different.

“The Human Rights Commission, they take complaints, they make observations, but he is the point man that goes to the community and allows opportunities for people to learn about each other,” Carlucci said.

Council President Ron Salem (R-Group 2 At-Large) left the door open for a renewed discussion about the position but pointed out the committee had offered to fund the position for six months.

“That allowed her and him to start, show what he can do. That’s what politics is. It’s compromise. I was disappointed that compromise was not taken,” Salem said.

But UNF political science professor Dr. Michael Binder argued the fact the Chief of Diversity and Inclusion was the only position objected to by the council, makes the fiscal responsibility argument a tough sell to the community.

RELATED STORY: Mayor Deegan jabs Governor DeSantis after council cuts funding for Chief of Diversity and Inclusion

“Listen, if you are philosophically opposed to the idea of a DEI officer or head of DEI, whatever you want it to be. Stand up and say it. Layout your position for why that’s the case. Don’t just simply hide behind economics when, if you’re being honest with everybody around you, it’s so much more than that,” Binder said.

Mayor Deegan said her office plans to present additional information about the position to councilmembers and the potential return on investment it could bring to the city.

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As President Salem acknowledged, there are still some opportunities for the issue to be revisited moving forward.

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