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FLASHBACK: John Delaney’s 1995 Campaign Kick-Off Speech


Thank you, Tom, and thank you all for coming tonight.

I’m John Delaney. I’m running for mayor of the City of Jacksonville.

I need you to help me.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re here tonight because we believe this city is in the opening moments of greatness. Jacksonville is making a fresh start. No more talk of potential. No more talk of opportunities. No more talk of partnerships. The time is now and the success is real!

We are right now stepping onto a world stage, competing in a world market. We’re boasting of Malcom Baldridge award-winners and recruiting Fortune 500 companies. We’re competing for world trade in our port and world leadership in our back-office and financial processing industries.

And you know as well as I do that in August the eyes of the world will be on Jacksonville, Florida. They’ll marvel at our beautiful river, our clean skyline, our quality of life, and they’ll want to come and live and work here.

We are on the move and nation and the world know it.

Greatness requires leadership. And here the choice is simple and clear. Do you want Tommy Hazouri to represent you in the boardrooms of Chicago? Do you want Jake Godbold to represent you in the bond houses of New York? Do you want Harry Reagan to represent you at half-time on Monday Night Football at the Gator Bowl?!

I mean no ill will towards them. They’ve served their role. It’s tough to be in the public arena, and we owe them thanks for their willingness to endure. I don’t want to talk about the past. I want to talk about tomorrow, of the changes we can make.

Greatness not only requires leadership, it requires hard work. And there is much work to do. Government simply isn’t getting the job done. It’s supposed to educate our kids, protect our homes, pave our road, drain our yards and bridge our rivers. It actually discourages job growth. The multiple levels of approval from local, state, regional and national regulators actually discourage business growth and job creation.

We need a fresh look at the government itself. There is a revolution in Washington, D.C. right now. Republicans are turning that government upside. They’re cutting staff, cutting regulations, cutting budgets. Meanwhile private industry is right-sized, continuous quality and getting more done with less.

But here, the bureaucracy just keeps on keeping on.

I have participated in the tightest budget and biggest public employee reductions in the history of this city. But the truth is we can do more. We cannot compete in the world-wide race at supersonic speeds if we’re driving an old clunker with big tailfins.

We must privatize, out-source, eliminate, deregulate. We must make this government better, smaller, cheaper, faster.

Ladies and gentlemen, during the next three months, you and I are going to take an unprecedented message to the voters of Jacksonville.

We’re going to re-engineer this government from the bottom to the top. We’re going to mount a vigorous effort to streamline the processes of government, and where we don’t see results fast enough, we’re going to bid it out to private companies who can do it better, smaller, cheaper, faster.

We’re going to fight the crime battle in Washington, in Tallahassee and in the neighborhoods of Jacksonville. We’re going to take this government out of City Hall and bring it to the neighborhoods of Jacksonville where the people who own the government and pay for it live.

We’re going to bring the very best our community has to offer to Jacksonville’s schools to ensure that our children have some future other than drugs and crime.

We’re going to compete throughout the nation and the world for economic opportunity for our citizens. We are not going to create an authority, a Commission, or a bureaucrat for Economic Development. For the next four years, Jacksonville’s mayor will be in charge of economic opportunities for Jacksonville.

You have my word we’re going to create the most aggressive package of governmental ethics rules of any city in the country. We’re going to talk about it in the Spring, enact it this Summer and enforce it in the Fall.

And finally, we’re going to embrace a new generation of leaders.

Three years ago, Senator Betty Holzendorf told me of the need to recruit the next generation of leaders.

Tonight, I’m calling out to people who haven’t been involved before… people who’ve been disillusioned about government… who felt it didn’t work or can’t be changed… people who felt that it didn’t matter what you do, that nothing made a difference, that one person couldn’t make a difference. Maybe that’s you, maybe it’s been all of us at one time or another.

I’m asking these people… I’m calling upon you… to get involved. We can change government. We can make it work. We can make it better, smaller, cheaper, faster. We can make it more professional, more responsive, more accessible.

We can make Jacksonville the Next Great American City!

Please help me meet this challenge. Please vote for me. Thank you all.

Now let’s get to work!


For more about John Delaney's 1995 campaign for mayor, see this month's print edition of the Jacksonville Observer Monthly.

3 Responses »

  1. MR. BETTER JACKSONVILLE Imagine where we'd be without John Delaney as Mayor - What a guy! And, a good college President. Good job Austin.

  2. What went wrong with this mayor is it all he can do is take,take ,take .

  3. Delaney always reminded me of Howdy Doody! Close look-a-like, and near the end, I could'nt look at him him without almost seeing his marionette strings going upward to the "Non-Group"!

    Lotta debt, some nice new buildings for his contractor buddies, clueless as to the whereabouts of the millions in shipyard/condo money, and about spent all of the contingency money on the way out the door as the "Gateway Party" ousted the "Ortega Party".

    Ah well. at least Jax does look at little better, and he kept the total wackos from running loose.....

    Amused, when near the end, he was introduced at a Republican welcome for Dick Chaney, but did not rise to speak. Believe he was afraid of the "boo" word. Noticed when Bush spoke at the landing, there were a few "boos" and then silence. Delaney had brought young children with him. (This is what I call a "Herb Sang" after our old School Superintendent who after receiving some "boos" during his yearly rally, adopted the practice of holding up some young child as he was introduced.) Neat political trick, and seems to work, if you don't mind hiding behind kids!

    Ah, well.... fun and games the politicos....