UNF poll shows mayor, city approval down

By Scott Johnson, General assignment reporter, sjohnson@wjxt.com
Elizabeth Berry, Evening assignment manager, beth@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 19 2014 11:30:41 PM EST
Updated On: Feb 20 2014 12:08:19 AM EST

As we inch closer to 2015 when jacksonville will once again vote for mayor - we're getting a good indication of how close a race might be... and who some of the challengers to Mayor Alvin Brown could be.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A poll conducted by the University of North Florida shows the mayor, sheriff and City Council's approval ratings are slipping.

The last time UNF conducted a poll, Mayor Alvin Brown was sitting comfortably with a 71 percent approval rating. Now a year later, that number had dipped to 59 percent.

Assistant professor at UNF Dr. Michael Binder oversaw the poll and said this happens usually during politicians' first terms.

"It makes a lot of sense. At beginning of term, you've got a honeymoon period, let's give this person a shot. Then, as you make policy, you begin to anger the other party," said Binder.

Binder also pointed out that the mayor is vulnerable in his re-election chances. UNF also polled the mayor against four potential Republican contenders for his position: Sheriff John Rutherford, Property Appraiser Jim Overton, City Council President Bill Gulliford and current state GOP Chair Lenny Curry.

The sheriff was the strongest contender, but still was 6 points behind the mayor.

"It was 41 to 35, so there's a lot of folks that haven't decided or aren't thinking about it, and there hasn't been a campaign yet," said Binder. "I think it's going to be close. It's local politics so anything could happen. It's possible someone could run and the mayor could march to victory easily."

RELATED: UNF poll: Mayor, City Council, JSO approval ratings down

Channel 4 reached out to Brown's campaign advisor about the latest poll.

"Thirty-seven points net, positive, nearly 3 to 1 job rating. When you look at Rick Scott and Barack Obama, who are split or negative depending on polling. So it's a strong place to be based on where country is politically," said Brown's campaign advisor, David Beattie. "These are hypothetical. Candidates, it's a long time before election, more than a year. I think the key right now for the mayor is focusing on balancing the budget, revitalizing downtown, focusing on doing the job."

UNF's poll also shows that the City Council has an approval rating of 45 percent, which is considerably higher than Congress. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office approval rating is at 66 percent, slipping from 71 percent last year.

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