Hazouri Makes it Official:
Heís Running for Mayor

Hazouri signs up with Frankie Knight of the elections office.

After spending the past several months deflecting rumors about his potential candidacy, former Mayor Tommy Hazouri officially entered the 2003 mayoral race Tuesday morning. Hazouri, who served as mayor from 1987-91 (being defeated for a second term by Ed Austin,) is seeking to become the first since John T. Alsop Jr. (1923-37 and 1941-45) to serve as mayor on two different occasions.

Once he filed the necessary paperwork with the Supervisor of Elections Office, Hazouri spent a few minutes with Mike Sharkey of the Daily Record talking about the race, the issues and why he is seeking a second term after 12 years out of office.

Question: After many years out of the mayorís office, you are back. Why?

Answer: Besides the fact that I really love Jacksonville, I feel that I have much to contribute to our city and I really have a vision for this community and what it can be like over the next four to eight years.

Iím excited about the possibilities of not just seeking that office, but to win that office. I bring to the campaign experience and, I believe, vision. We are going to talk about that over the next several months.

Question: You served as mayor and then took time off. During that time you have seen the city progress. Is having served as mayor before an advantage for you?

Answer: Absolutely. Having been mayor before certainly gives you an advantage, but also the experience to know how to improve on what youíve done and what you know that the city and the people of Jacksonville want for themselves and their families over the next decade. Iím excited about it.

I think with the Better Jacksonville Plan you are going to need someone in there, obviously, to make it an even better Jacksonville in carrying out Mayor [John] Delaneyís program. But, more importantly, the next mayor is going to have to have a vision. On top of just building buildings, we are going to have to talk about some of the major issues that are going to give Jacksonville the kind of quality of life all of us want. The number one issue, obviously to everyone, is going to be education.

Question: Do you have any ideas as what to do about education?

Answer: I do and Iím going to be more specific about that and other issues as the months pass. Iím going to give as much attention to education as I gave to removing tolls and removing the odor from this community. That is a top priority for this city. If we are going to have the kind of quality city that all of us expect, then the mayor is going to have to provide the bully pulpit for making that happen.

Question: For months now, several big name Republicans have been in the race. Was the time for a big name Democrat to get in the race?

Answer: I donít know if itís a big name and there may be more coming, who knows? I think it was time for me to make my decision and we need to raise funds. I know that Iím not looking to raise what some of the other candidates may be raising. I know I need to raise what I need to raise to have a very viable campaign. More importantly, Iím anxious to get out among the people, talk to them, listen to them and see what their concerns are and to make that part of the program.

Question: As a Democrat, your funding will come a different source than the Republicans. Because others have been raising money for months now, do you feel like you are behind the eight ball in campaign contributions?

Answer: No. Iíve always raised money from different sources. Thereís no special interest for me. I think thatís the general knowledge and the general opinion of those who are involved in politics. Weíll raise the money that we need to raise. Iím sure some of the candidates can raise over a million dollars. I donít know that you need that much. I donít think I do.

More importantly, is to raise the amount that I need to have a viable campaign. Thatís my mission. The bottom line, beyond that, is to go out and be among the public and do the kind of things I know need to be done to let people know where Iím coming from and where I would like to see this city heading.

Question: Years ago you had to appeal to a different group of voters. Jacksonville has grown a lot over that time and the voters in the 20-30 year-old range probably donít even know who you are. Now that they will influence the political landscape of Jacksonville, how to you appeal to that generation of voter?

Answer: By having the kind of vision that they can identify with. Weíve got, what, 17 percent new people in Jacksonville today. Fortunately, Iím in pretty good stead with a lot of those who know me and for those who donít me, they will get to know me and in positive way. And, theyíll know what my issues are. My issues are going to be their issues. I was born and raised here.

You talk about neighborhoods. You talk about growth, transportation, growth management and protecting our environment. These are issues that Iím sure the other candidates are going to speak to. Itís common knowledge what these issues are. The bottom line is going to be then, who is going to be able to deliver for the people? Who is going to be able to carry out these goals and this vision? I think Iím a proven commodity.

Again, I use tolls and odor as an example. These are things people thought we could never get done; that weíd never get rid of odor; that we would never get rid of the tolls in Jacksonville.

Question: If you donít believe that youíll have to outspend a few other candidates, do you think youíll have to out politic them?

Answer: There wonít be anybody in the race now, or even potential candidates, who will have the experience of being mayor and can lead this city, can govern this city and then also have the vision to lead Jacksonville into the future. Thatís what Iím going to be talking about.

The bottom line is Iíve got the experience to govern and Iíve got the vision to lead. I think thatís really what Tommy Hazouri is going to be about. Yes, out politic them, I donít use that word. I think itís going to be a personality race as well and who people have confidence in and who they can trust and who they know that can lead. I think people are going to have some choices this time [Delaney ran unopposed in Ď99], a lot of choices.

When I first ran there were five or six of us when I won. And here youíre going to have at least six, maybe as many as 10 people. Who knows? The important thing is for people to look at that list of candidates to see who they want to serve as the leader of this community and who has the proven record that deliver on what they say they are going to do and keep their promises. I think thatís what my reputation is all about.

When I make promises, itís promises that I keep.

We are going to do that and we are going to continue the success that Mayor Delaney has enjoyed and we are going to address the other issues that are going to carry us into the future. There are some major issues that still need to be addressed, but every mayor has that. Mayor Delaney canít do all he wants to do and I couldnít do all that I wanted to do. Thatís the way it is in government in general. Iím looking forward to it. Iím looking forward to the debate. Iím looking forward to the campaign. But, more importantly, Iím looking forward to winning.

Question: Was this decision a long coming or was this an epiphany?

Answer: I think a lot of people have always felt that Tommy Hazouri was anxious to run. It wasnít about being anxious to run or couldnít wait to be out of the box and into a race. I look at other offices that I could be running for. I want to serve the public. Thatís what Iíve always been about. I love public policy. I love being able to make the executive-type decisions that will make a difference in the community and in peopleís lives.

Donít think that this hasnít been very prayerful. Iíve gone up and down. I know what it takes to run for office. I know what it takes to run for mayor, especially, and to be the mayor. Having served as a legislator for 12 years and the mayor for four, I bring that kind of positive background to this government. Is this what I want to do? The answer is a resounding yes. Itís a big sacrifice for my family and a big sacrifice for me personally. But, itís something I love and itís something I hope they know ó I want to be the mayor.

Question: You mentioned pondering other public offices. Having been both a legislator and the mayor, did you realize you could do more for your community as mayor than as member of the Legislature?

Answer: It was different. Some people liked me better in the Legislature and that was fun. You can do some things over there [Tallahassee] but the problem is in the Legislature you make a decision and hope that the bureaucrats interpret it the way that was intended when it was passed. We were able to do a lot of good things in my 12 years as a legislator.

But, when youíre mayor, your decisions are instant. The buck stops with you. You can make the decisions to make things happen. I look now at the blue bin program for recycling that we began, tolls and the new jail ó all the things that we did. You can only do it by having leadership and vision and taking care of business. Thatís what Iím all about. Like Steve Spurrier says, heís going to pass the ball around a little bit and see what he can do. Thatís what we do.

We try to go for the home run and doing the kinds of things that Jacksonville could never do. Look at the Jaguars. They said that could never be done. They said the tolls could never be done. They said odor could never be done. I give credit to John Delaney for being able to continue that beat and hopefully I can pick up where he left off, have our own vision and give people the kind of confidence they want in their mayor.