Tommy Hazouri, Jacksonville native and Jacksonville City Council president who had served in multiple political positions over the last 47 years, died Saturday at the age of 76 from recent complications that traced back to a lung transplant he received last year.
Prior to his most recent position as a City Council member, Hazouri began his political career by spending 12 years in the Florida House of Representatives from 1974 to 1986. In 1987, he was elected as the first Arab-American mayor in Jacksonville history, where he would serve until 1991.
After serving as mayor, Hazouri would then go on to become a Duval County School Board member from 2004-2012 before being elected to the City Council in 2015, and reelected in 2019.
Highlighting his memorable wins and losses, a report by Jacksonville.com includes Hazouri’s infamous fight to eliminate tolls on multiple roads and bridges, as well as the fight to rid the city of industrial odor pollution that gave Jacksonville the reputation as the “city that stinks.”
Recently, in his last efforts as Council president, Hazouri formed a special committee on racial justice and policing, as well as supporting the doubling of a local gas tax proposed by mayor Curry. As stated in the report, the gas tax was part of a plan to rapidly complete a list of transit projects, connect historically neglected neighborhoods to city water and sewer lines, and free up money for increased spending on parks, libraries and other public services.
As far as the losses, the report talks about a $96 garbage collection fee and his “combative public persona” that “depleted his political capital.” Another loss includes Hazouri’s belief that his “little-guy agenda” was being attacked by politicians with deep pockets, which ultimately became the case when civic and business leaders recruited the state attorney, Ed Austin, to run against him – “ending of an era of Democratic Party dominance in city politics.”
“He spent his final days at peace surrounded by his family and friends; and in typical Tommy fashion, there was no shortage of laughing, reminiscing and holding loved ones close,” his family said in a statement. “In times of intense fury, overwhelming sorrow or unpredictable turmoil, he always insisted people put differences aside and come together.”
“Our city mourns the loss of a true Jacksonville champion,” current Jacksonville Mayor, Lenny Curry, said. “Tommy, I will always value your friendship, leadership and passion for our community. You will be dearly missed.”
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Tommy Hazouri” by Mincy Pollock. Background Photo “Jacksonville, FL” by Jon Zander CC BY-SA 3.0.