John Meserve Will Seek District 13 City Council Seat
The passing of Senator Jim King over the weekend will have some obvious political ramifications. What was to be a quiet year, perhaps the first year in recent memory without a major regular or special election, will now see at least two signficiant contests.
The first will be a special election to fill Senator King's seat, and the date for that race will be set by the governor sometime in the near future. Four Republicans, all well-funded and formidable candidates, are currently in the running.
One of those candidates, City Councilman Art Graham, will have to resign from his Council seat almost 2 years early in order to contest the Senate race.
Thus there will also be a need for a special election to fill Graham's city council seat, and it seems that Atlantic Beach Mayor John Meserve is set to join the fray.
"I am running. I am going to run for Art's seat," Meserve told the Jacksonville Observer when asked to confirm rumors of his candidacy.
Meserve said that he had always planned to seek the District 13 Council seat, but that he had hoped it would be under different circumstances.
"I deal a lot with the Jacksonville City Council as Mayor of Atlantic Beach," Meserve continued. "I think I can put some of my 13 years of elected experience to good use."
Two men have already declared themselves candidates to represent District 13, and were expecting to face the voters in the Spring of 2011. The first is Republican Richard Pait, who talked to us about his campaign a few weeks ago. The other is Democrat Dave Smith, who was a candidate for State House last year.
Reacting to the news that Meserve planned to file for the seat when a special election is declared, Richard Pait had some tough words for the Mayor.
"I don't understand why he would give up the mayorship of a town to go onto the Jacksonville City Council," said Pait. "It's confusing to me."
"Memorial services for Senator King aren't even until August," Pait continued. "I say let the family grieve and have their time. Everybody needs to leave politics alone, and in my opinion, everybody needs to shut up. The man had a family, we need to let the family grieve."
"I've suspended my campaign," said Pait. "This politics as usual stuff - I just don't get it."
Meserve is the Executive Director and CEO of Fleet Landing, a 'Continuing Care Retirement Community' located in Atlantic Beach. He was born in New Jersey, grew up in Michigan, and attended college in New York at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He was commissioned an Ensign in the Navy upon graduation in 1963 and spent 27 years on active duty. Prior to being elected as Mayor in 1999, he served on the Atlantic Beach City Commission during the 90's.
After serving for three terms as Mayor, Meserve didn't run again in 2005 because, as he told the Florida Times-Union, he felt it was time for "new blood" at City Hall. Don Wolfson defeated two other candidates to win the seat and served a single term. Wolfson then opted not to challenge the Meserve, who returned to the Mayor's office by winning his fourth term without opposition in 2007.
Meserve had already filed to seek a fifth term as mayor in an election scheduled for October of this year.
Now the City of Atlantic Beach will have an open mayoral seat on the Fall ballot.