FLORIDA TIMES-UNION QUESTIONS Jill Dame Candidate for Jacksonville City Council District 14

1. In recent years, the mayor and City Council have used a mix of revenue increases and cuts in expenses to balance the city budget. Do you agree? If not, what would you do differently?
The City’s budget should be built after strategically looking at city operations and then funding based on a plan that prioritizes needs and services. The work of prioritizing and looking at structure should occur many months before the start of the budget process. A reasonable budget process requires a lot of advance work spent developing the priorities. There are areas in the budget that could be trimmed. The first step is to get the City’s internal structure in order. A thorough review of our local government structure could lead to the elimination or consolidation of departments and positions. The next step should be a review of all operations for cost savings and opportunities for more efficient deployment of resources. A budget built without strategic priorities is likely to contain many items that should be cut in times of reduced city revenues. While work is ongoing to improve our structure and efficiency we must continue the process of prioritizing our needs and services. Local government has certain core functions that must be given top priority. We must continue to fund public safety – our police and fire/rescue departments must be properly staffed, equipped and trained to protect the community. Infrastructure must be maintained and improved to serve the community and allow for growth. Education is a major concern and we must support our public schools. These are the top priorities for ongoing budget decisions but it must be based on wise investment, carefully managed, and not at the expense of other City functions that support our quality of life. Only after expenses have been reduced or eliminated to the maximum acceptable level would it be appropriate to look for areas for revenue increases. This is painful but a consequence of falling property values that have stopped the development that historically maintained the City government budget. Jacksonville has been known for a very favorable tax rate and for very low per capita spending and it is important to continue that historic approach.

2. Do you support the Jacksonville Journey? Explain your answer.
I support the Jacksonville Journey initiative and believe that the comprehensive approach that it utilizes is beginning to work, as evidenced by significant declines in the homicide and overall crime rates. I also believe that it must be given more time to prove its success. Most of the problems that Jacksonville Journey is tackling don’t have short term fixes, these are long term strategies. Changing strategies every time the City

administration changes is counterproductive, as evidenced by the inability to develop and implement a consistent plan for downtown redevelopment. Jacksonville Journey programs attempt to reduce crime through a combination of law enforcement, prevention, rehabilitation and targeted intervention. Its citizen led Oversight Committee is responsible for monitoring the progress of its implementation, offers recommendations for program modifications and is in place to ensure that the taxpayers’ investment in this comprehensive public safety program produces maximum results. In addition to measuring outcomes, the oversight group has placed a priority on transparency of its work. While reductions in violent crime and murder statistics can not be totally attributed to Jacksonville Journey, its mix of prevention, intervention and enforcement make a strong case for continued increases in the safety of our neighborhoods. Crime is best addressed from multiple strategies and crime prevention is a core service for local government. The monies spent on these programs are much less than the monies that would be required at the other end if program participants instead moved into the criminal system. If we don’t fund prevention and intervention, we will pay more later for enforcement and incarceration.

3. What endorsements have you received?
My campaign is supported by many individuals and area corporations. Several endorsements are pending.

4. How much civic activity do you perform outside work?
For the past 17 year I have served as a volunteer, consultant and interim executive for nonprofit organizations, focusing on organizational development, fundraising, and strategic planning. In this capacity I have been able to utilize my legal and education backgrounds and skills to serve extensively with organizations that have worked for the benefit of our community. Civic activities outside of my paid work have included: • Chairing and restructuring the programs of the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women • Chairing the JCCI Implementation Task Force for the Role of Nonprofits in the Community Study. This work led to my founding the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, an organization dedicated to enabling thriving nonprofit leadership, facilitating collective action and enhancing public understanding of the nonprofit sector and raising operating revenues from private sources for the first three years of the Center’s existence. • Preparing leadership curriculum and instruction for teenagers through Leadership Jacksonville’s Youth Leadership program

Serving on the implementation of JCCI’s Our Money/Our City: Financing Jacksonville’s Future study, focusing on government budgeting transparency, accountability and benchmarking. Co-chairing capital campaigns for youth serving nonprofits, raising over $5 million for education, sports, and mentoring facilities.

5. How do you intend to comply with Florida¹s public records and government in the sunshine laws? If you saw an elected official breaking the sunshine law, what would you do?
The City Council receives entry level and periodic update training from the City Ethic’s Officer to teach proper compliance with public records and sunshine laws. I will eagerly participate in this training and enthusiastically comply fully with these laws. Where there is any question, I will seek counsel from the Ethics Office. I have already taken advantage of several Florida Bar trainings on Government in the Sunshine and certainly would look to the local experts to resolve any specific questions. Transparency and accountability are key components of public service ethics. Both of these laws seek to codify what is a basic, ethical component of elected service. I am running for office with the knowledge that my actions must always be transparent and for the good of the community, not personal gain or benefit. My reaction to observing a violation of the sunshine law would be to first ask the official to cease the activity and then to report the purported violation to the Ethics Office for follow-up and investigation. I would not knowingly participate in or condone any activity that I believed to be a violation of the sunshine laws.

6. What can you do to help support the clean-up of the St. Johns River?
According to the River Accord Annual Report 2010, more than 54 of Duval County’s 152 river tributaries have bacterial levels that are so high that the waters are deemed unsafe for fishing and swimming. The City has partnered to work to restore the health of the St. Johns, committing to spend $150 million in addition to monies from the JEA. As a city we committed to reducing nitrogen discharge in several ways, in particular by eliminating failing septic tanks and capturing and treating stormwater before it goes into our waterways. My job as a City Council member will be to work with the administration to see that strategies with timelines are in place to meet these commitments, that progress is being made in both of these areas and that they are sufficiently funded to achieve the desired results.

7. How can you become engaged in the city¹s high murder, infant mortality and suicide rates?
I believe that as a City Council member, my role in reducing murder, infant mortality and suicide rates is to work to better understand the causes of these issues, recognize and support the available resources to address them and look for opportunities for the City to better perform its role in each of these areas. Continuing funding and improvement for Jacksonville Journey programs is an effort to reduce the murder rates. These programs must continue to show progress.


In 2008 JCCI released a study on Infant Mortality. The study indicates that many factors lead to Jacksonville’s high rate of infant mortality. Some of these are not City government related factors but should be addressed by the community at large. A key finding was that medical care, while very important, contributes to only 10 to 15 percent of pregnancy outcomes and that underlying societal and structural root causes of infant mortality also include stresses on the mother from racism, poverty, poor housing, crime, education, access to medical care, drug abuse, and joblessness. Improved education, crime reduction, more jobs, can all help to reduce some of the stresses indicated as factors in infant mortality. As a City Council we must also look to the mental health of our citizens. Is our community taking advantage of all available funding for mental health issues? There have been many changes in the mental health care delivery system in recent years. Can we as a city do better and support our local mental health care providers? These answers don’t always involve spending more local tax dollars but we should require greater understanding of the issues on the part of our leadership so that all the ramifications of local budget decisions are understood.

8. Has consolidation been a good or bad deal for Jacksonville? Please explain your answer.
Consolidation has been a good deal for Jacksonville. It has removed one layer of government, reduced waste and duplication of services, allowed a unified vision for our community, and created many efficiencies. Compared to Dade County and the City of Miami, Jacksonville is more efficient, less political and more responsive to the needs of its citizens.

For council candidates: What is the role of a council member? As mini-mayor? Or as legislator?
City Council is a legislative body. Our form of government has a strong mayor who exercises executive powers with the check and balance of the City Council exercising its legislative powers. The City Council sets policies and guidelines for implementation by the Mayor’s office and exercises an oversight role to insure that its policies are implemented. The City Council has an obligation to make sure the government is responsive to the needs and concerns of residents.


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