It’s fair to say Lenny Curry had one heck of the year. He did everything from addressing the public pension funding shortfall to bracing his community for a 100-year storm. And now the 46-year-old Jacksonville mayor can add one more thing to his list of 2016 accomplishments: INFLUENCE Magazine’s 2016 Politician of the Year.
The biggest issue in Jacksonville in recent years has been the pension shortfall, something that piqued Curry’s interest early on. Mayors had come and gone, unable to solve the problem. But the Curry administration found a fix: an unprecedented referendum extending a half-cent infrastructure tax past its 2030 sunset, creating a stable funding source for the obligation.
“It intrigued me,” he said. “There was great and significant political risk pursuing this in the first term, specifically within the first year, but if you want to do big things, you’ve got to play big ball.
He did his homework and decided to move forward, saying he “wasn’t going to let it sit for four years.” The decision to move forward was the right one; voters overwhelmingly approved the measure earlier this year.
But that wasn’t his only challenge in 2016. As Hurricane Matthew barreled toward Florida, Curry was one of dozens of elected officials up and down the state’s east coast urging their residents to stay out of harm’s way. The community was spared a direct hit, but the impact from the storm was severe.
Curry said he was “completely and totally at comfort and at ease in handling the decision making, the preparation, and the communication” before, during and after the storm. And he looked to Gov. Rick Scott, a long-time friend and political ally, for advice and encouragement.
With 2016 in the rear view mirror, Curry is now looking toward the future. That means focusing on downtown revitalization efforts and discussions about social legislation.
Want to know more about our 2016 Politician of the Year? Check out AG Gancarski‘s profile of Curry in the 2016 winter edition of INFLUENCE Magazine, available online now.