(JACKSONVILLE, FL)- The New Florida Majority released the following statement ahead of Thursday’s Town  Hall with Terrence Freeman: 

As an independent political organization, The New Florida Majority (NewFM) works with other local groups and activists to increase voting and political power of marginalized and often excluded constituencies in Jacksonville and across Florida. Governor Rick Scott’s recent appointment of Terrence Freeman to Jacksonville City Council District 10 undermines these efforts at creating an inclusive political system  and suppresses the will of the people to select their own elected representatives.

Although the appointment is temporary, the long-term impact of Mr. Freeman’s ten months in office could be far reaching. His two spots on Jacksonville City Council committees include Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health & Safety Committee and the Transportation, Energy & Utilities Committee. Votes on the budget, education, affordable housing, gentrification and police accountability are just some of the important decisions that he will have to cast that will affect his constituents now and for years to come.

The public knows this. In the short time since his appointment was announced, the residents of District 10 have made their feelings loud and clear. Mr. Freeman does not reflect the politics of their community nor does he live in the district. Both are legitimate standards of any  elected officials in a democracy.

Its not the first time that Governor Scott has sidestepped voting rights for political expediency. But you can’t build a strong state and inclusive, equitable society if Democratic institutions are just for show.

We look forward to the courts and the City Council stepping in to uphold this fundamental right of self-determination. In the meantime, we encourage our members and all residents of District 10 to  attend Thursday’s Town Hall meeting with Councilman Freeman so that his stance on these upcoming decisions can be brought in to the light.

The interests AND the will of the community must come first and must be respected by everyone in the political process, even the Governor.