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A look at Lenny Curry’s transition leadership team

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Reported late on Thursday by multiple outlets, the Lenny Curry transition leadership team gives some insight into what his administration might look like. It is stocked with familiar names and steady hands who have history in Jacksonville and who have been supporters of the mayor-elect.

“In the days and weeks ahead, I will be working with the transition leadership team, as well as additional advisers and team members, to implement my plan to restore Jacksonville’s greatness,” said Curry in a press release. “With so much expertise across so many communities and issues, these leaders are exactly the right start to this important process.”

Chairman Tom Petway is a familiar name to Jacksonville residents dating back to his leading of the Touchdown Jacksonville effort that landed Jacksonville the Jaguars, which at the time was considered by most to be a huge surprise.

Another big name in Touchdown Jacksonville: Jeb Bush, an early endorser of Curry who was prominent in campaign advertisements.

Petway and his family donated heavily to the Curry campaign. Petway is a former Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce chairman, and brings establishment gravitas to his role.

Rena Coughlin is a local leader in the nonprofit sector who brings a wealth of experience to her role, including eight years in Washington, D.C., where she was a legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

Coughlin is the co-chair, along with Charles Moreland, a district fire chief who has been a close ally of Curry’s, both on the campaign trail and beforehand.

Moreland and Curry have known each other for years, and Moreland appeared with Curry at many campaign events, most notably at his appearance in Grand Park a few weeks back.

Executive Director Sam Mousa is a steady hand, with experience in the administrations of John Peyton and John Delaney both. Mousa was first employed by the city when Tommy Hazouri was mayor.

A clue into Mousa’s personality: Delaney’s quote from 2002 that “some may say that Sam [Mousa] is a SOB. If he is, he’s my SOB.”

In the same interview, Delaney called Mousa a “good administrator. If you give him something, it gets done.”

Mousa, according to the press release from the Curry team, “enjoyed a long and prestigious career as a public servant, culminating in his mayoral appointment as chief administrative officer (CAO) for the City of Jacksonville. As CAO, he was responsible for the daily management and operations of all City departments, as well as the $2.25 billion Better Jacksonville Plan. He previously served the city as deputy chief administrative officer, director of public works, and as a city engineer.”

The final piece of the puzzle, Policy Director Susie Wiles, is another veteran of Jacksonville politics at the highest level. She was John Delaney’s chief of staff and John Peyton’s communications director and interim executive director of the Jacksonville Civic Council on two occasions, along with a plethora of state and national campaign and policy experience, including being a transition team member for former Gov. Charlie Crist and being Rick Scott‘s 2010 campaign manager.

It would be easier to name the things she lacks experience in than the things she has experience handling. She has represented private sector clients, according to the press release, “in the areas of environmental permitting, education, insurance, grassroots activism, water services and railroads.”

All told, this group of five consists of steady hands who know how government works, and give every indication that the Curry team will function in the same moderate Republican way that the Delaney and Peyton administrations did. Not many surprises in this group; all of them are proven hands, and people with historical experience and relevance that Curry clearly trusts.

Obviously, Curry is leaving as little to chance with the transition as he did with his campaign.

A.G. Gancarski has written a weekly column for Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly since 2003. His writings on politics, culture, and sport have appeared in the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, and the American Conservative. His radio and TV appearances include frequent contributions to WJCT-FM (Jacksonville’s Public Radio station); additionally, he has been a guest on Huff Post Live and the Savage Nation radio show. Gancarski can be reached at

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