Q: Can you comment on the issues the Duval County canvassing board, of which you were a member, faced during the recent election cycle?
A: We did have a couple of issues, the first being the ability for citizens to watch our work in real time. We did ultimately provide a livestream. I understand the privacy concerns that initially were considered. Some people do put their name or their initials on their ballot and the canvassing board would be responsible from a privacy standpoint if these were revealed. What we were offering was not outside the law. As I understand it, only three counties in Florida out of 67 have online viewing of the canvassing board. Then, the Brent Shore situation was a little surprising. But despite these challenges, at the end of the day, I’m remarkably impressed with Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan and his staff. They take a lot of pride in the integrity of their office.
Q: What is the latest update you have on the Lot J project?
A: This continues to be a focus of concern for all of us. Councilman Carlucci originally suggested that a third party review the proposal, but it was changed to sending it to the Downtown Investment Authority for review. While I appreciate their ability to do a credible job, I still think a third party, truly independent company, retained by the city council, would be in the best interest of the community for the sake of optics if nothing else.
Q: Have you been able to attend any Mandarin events lately?
A: On Sunday, Nov. 15, I attended the 75th anniversary celebration of the Mandarin Garden Club. I’d like to recognize Laura Miller, McGlade Holloway and Wanda Bosworth for their hard work and also Emily Lisska, who wrote a decade-by-decade narrative of life in Mandarin, which was presented by Sandra Varner. This event was nicely attended.
Q: Do you have anything else you’re working on that you can share?
A: One big thing relates to Deep Bottom Creek, which runs roughly from the Walmart area and through north Mandarin before it empties into the St. Johns River. Over the last 40 years, homeowners near the basin of this creek have dealt with sediment flow that makes it impossible to enjoy the basin area. I recently walked the affected area with representatives from the St. Johns River Water Management District and the city’s Public Works Department and Department of Environmental Protection as we try to determine what is causing this sediment and how to deal with it. Some think the building of the Buckman Bridge or Interstate 295 or even the Walmart and its parking lot contributed. We are hoping to get some funding to be able to dredge the basin to make it navigable for small boats and enjoyable for homeowners again.
Finally, I’d like to convey my best wishes to all Mandarin families for a safe and secure holiday season as we look forward to 2021.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Community members can email me at MBoylan@coj.net or call (904) 255-5206.