JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s still unclear if the city will issue a permit for the Donna Foundation’s Mother’s Day 5K race, which is scheduled to take place ahead of next month’s election.
The annual race, which was scheduled to be held again on May 13, is being asked by the city of Jacksonville to reschedule the race this year.
City officials said that with Donna Deegan, the founder and namesake of the Donna Foundation charity currently running for mayor of Jacksonville, it would not be appropriate for the foundation’s 5K to take place while early voting is ongoing and in May -Election just takes days away on May 16th.
The Donna Foundation was encouraged to reschedule the race outside of the voting period.
Deegan, a Democrat, is running for mayor against Republican Daniel Davis.
Political observers said the back and forth during the race is already having an effect. But some told News4JAX it doesn’t affect their decision.
News4JAX spoke to voters on Thursday about the situation surrounding the race and whether holding it before an election is worrisome.
“Personally, I don’t think that’s a problem. I don’t even support them, but I wouldn’t get upset about it,” said voter Christine Hatt.
News4JAX asked readers if the fact that the city is proposing to postpone the run until after the election worries them.
“Absolutely not! The race for Mayor has nothing to do with the race for Mother’s Day. It’s financially absurd to postpone a pre-planned event,” said Patrick Miko.
“Not really, but I get it. I’d like to see both candidates walk in it and come together instead of all the negative ads,” said another reader.
“It should be moved after Mother’s Day to erase all traces of impropriety. The city shouldn’t issue a permit,” said another reader.
But the mayor’s office is concerned about how the public perceives this and whether they are showing support for Deegan. That’s why they wanted the foundation to postpone it by a week to the Saturday after the election. Rick Mullaney, political analyst at News4JAX, said that raising the question in the first place is actually more damaging.
“I’m confident that it was not City Hall’s intention to create this appearance issue,” Mullaney said. “But the request to move the date may have contributed to the appearance issue. They talk about City Hall’s appearance issue, that the City of Jacksonville unduly influences the election.”
Some City Council members, like Matt Carlucci, have concerns about this, saying it is much more than just a political game.
“You know, not long ago I used to call it the ‘summer slump,'” Carlucci said. “Politics is that. It’s not as silly as it used to be and has become more serious. It’s gotten more vengeful, it’s gotten more strategic. And it has become more unfair.”
Carlucci has previously been involved in mayoral races. In 2003 he was one of those running for office when John Peyton was first elected mayor, and during that campaign there was another race, the Gate River Run, a month before the election. John Peyton’s family owns Gate Petroleum, the title sponsor of the event. At the time, John Delaney was mayor and there was no public concern at the time about permitting this race. Neither Peyton nor Delaney commented on the current situation on Thursday.
According to city regulations, approval should be given 90 days before an event. The Donna race request was made 50 days earlier, but the rule isn’t set in stone. If it’s late, the city can decide to allow it, which it has done in the past, so long as it gets approval from the sheriff and other agencies that breed this breed.
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