He may be in his 70s and looking back at a half-century of political involvement, but Tommy Hazouri plans on “hitting the ground running” when he takes office as president of the City Council July 1.
He already has appointed seven council members to form a special new committee on social justice, which he says will be his top priority.
“We are in a new era of enlightenment,” he told Eye on Jacksonville. “It is going to be the council’s commitment, and mine, to make a difference.”
Hazouri will have completed a feat no other local politician has done when he becomes council president.
He was first elected to office in 1974, as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, after serving two years as an aide to state Rep. Carl Ogden, D-Jacksonville.
Since then, Hazouri has served as the head of the executive branch of the city of Jacksonville, head of the School Board and head of the Duval Legislative Delegation.
If you count his stint as president of the student body at Jacksonville University, he has a leadership record probably unequaled.
He plans to put that experience to use as council president, but says his current council term will be his “last hurrah.”
The new committee he has formed will examine economic development, jobs, education and law enforcement. All bills related to those areas will be funneled through the new committee, which will act as a clearinghouse, he said.
“It’s about priorities. Issues get resolved when you make them a priority.”
Hazouri hopes what is done will be long lasting and will have the council and mayor working hand in hand, although he anticipates the usual differences of opinion to arise.
He also sees public safety as a major concern. “Any government’s prime goal is public safety,” he said.
Other matters are “finishing up” on the JEA sale controversy, taking on mental health and opioid issues and working with the mayor on economic development matters such as the Jacksonville Landing site, Berkman Plaza, Lot J and the District.
Hazouri, a Democrat, is hopeful the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville will be a big plus for the city. He said it should be an economic boost for local business but he is worried about what effect it might have on public health and public safety.