JACKSONVILLE, Florida. The candidate chosen by Mayor Donna Deegan to head the Department of Neighborhoods does not have the necessary qualifications to serve in this position.
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Al Ferraro, a former city councilman and Republican mayoral candidate, has no college education.
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The city’s charter requires the director of the Department of Neighborhoods to hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
This is not the first time that the director of the Department of Neighborhood Affairs has been challenged by his education.
In 2016, former mayor Lenny Curry-chosen department head Derek Igoe abruptly resigned after it was revealed that the university he received his degree from was not accredited.
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However, Ferraro’s lack of a degree does not close the door on his confirmation.
Deegan’s administration has said it plans to request a waiver from the city council to allow him to keep his post.
“Al’s years of experience as a city councilor, small business owner, and community leader surpasses the credentials of a bachelor’s degree. We’re making a standard waiver request, referring to his long career. Al loves the neighborhoods and believes, as I do, that we need to do more to get them involved in City Hall’s decision-making process,” Deegan said in an emailed statement.
At least one city council member, Matt Carlucci (R-Group 4 At-Large), assessed Ferraro’s situation and expressed support.
“Rejection of demands from time to time is not new. I will support the refusal of Al Ferraro and his appointment, ”said Carlucci. “He is a successful businessman and has shown his love and dedication to the neighborhoods during his two terms on the council and as a community leader. Most importantly, he is honest!”
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Only a simple majority on the council is required to grant a waiver, city general counsel Jason Teal said.
With only five of the city’s 19 seats held by Democrats, bipartisan support may be needed for Ferraro to get the green light.
But before a refusal can be passed on to the full board, it must first be approved by the Rules Committee.
It is led by Councilman Terrence Freeman (R-Group 1 At-Large), who supported Daniel Davis in the race for Mayor of Ferraro.
In a statement provided to Action News, Jax Freeman suggested that the issue of education is not the only issue he has with Ferraro.
“As is the case with all nominees, the Rules Committee will carefully consider the qualifications of this nominee. In addition to this question, I plan to specifically ask Mr. Ferraro about the fines he received from the city and his recent comments about corruption in the Department of Neighborhood Affairs,” Freeman said.
Jax revealed earlier this week that Ferraro owed more than $2,000 in fines to the Department of Neighborhood Affairs when Deegan appointed him as head of the department on June 29.
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Ferraro paid those fines on Tuesday.