I recently had the opportunity to join former mayors of Jacksonville during a special forum hosted by Jacksonville University and WJXT.
The occasion commemorated the 50th anniversary of the city’s consolidation, which took effect on Oct. 1, 1968.
We discussed how in the years before consolidation the people of Jacksonville had lost their trust in local government. Multiple city leaders faced indictments and local schools were disaccredited. Government services were often duplicative and ineffective.
Consolidation was a bold effort to build and restore that trust. It was an effort to ensure that Jacksonville’s government was responsive to the needs of all citizens, in all areas of the community. And it was the people of Jacksonville that made this change possible, creating the largest city by population and size (840 square miles) in the state.
J.J. Daniel, one of the key leaders behind the effort, described the spirit that motivated this change in a speech at the first inauguration of city leaders after consolidation:
"It was the spirit of our people that made this moment possible. If we follow in this spirit of just concern for each other’s well-being, of responsible involvement in government, and recognition and respect for mutual problems, we shall not fail."
In many ways, the idea of One City. One Jacksonville. was born from the push for consolidation. It’s a vision and idea that my administration and I work toward every day as we strive to improve the lives of citizens throughout our city – especially in communities that continue to be plagued with disparities and unfulfilled commitments.
As I said in my closing remarks at the forum, unifying our municipal and county governments was a good move for our city. But good can always be better, and better can always be best. We’ve accomplished many things in the last fifty years, but we have much more to do in our mission for One City. One Jacksonville.