More than four decades after he was elected to the Florida House and more than a quarter of a century after he was thrown out of the mayor’s office after one term in Jacksonville, Democrat Tommy Hazouri continues to make waves on the First Coast.
Earlier this month, Hazouri, now serving on the Jacksonville City Council, along with John Crescimbeni helped kill an effort to end the current limit of two terms for city officials. For that, Hazouri received the praise of U.S. Term Limits.
“It was obvious all along what this was about: politicians defying the voters in order to increase their own power,” said Florida-based Nick Tomboulides, the executive director of U.S. Term Limits, on Wednesday. “Tommy Hazouri did the city a great service by exposing the self-serving nature of this bill.”
That’s not the only issue Hazouri has been focused on in recent months. The former mayor also has been pushing the city government to open the books as JaxPort plans to dredge the St. Johns River. Also in recent years, Hazouri has been spearheading adding a Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) in Jacksonville which passed earlier this year.
Hazouri’s prominent role on the Jacksonville City Council is just the latest act in his more than 40 years on the political stage. Elected to the Legislature in 1974, Hazouri rose to lead the Education, K-12 Committee before being elected mayor in 1987, beating John Lewis in a nasty primary. Hazouri scored some wins during his time in mayor--including abolishing tolls in favor of raising the sales tax by half a percent--but fellow Democrat Ed Austin defeated him in 1991.
While he started out leading the polls in 1995 after Austin said he would not run for a second term, Hazouri faded and came in distant third behind former Mayor Jake Godbold and Republican John Delaney in the first round of the election. Despite Godbold being a fellow Democrat, Hazouri threw his support behind Delaney who won the runoff. When Delaney faced term limits in 2003, Hazouri ran again but bowed out when then Duval County Sheriff Nat Glover jumped in.
Instead of fading away after three unsuccessful mayoral bids, Hazouri went back to basics. In 2004, he ran for and won a seat on the Duval County School Board where he rose up the ranks. After winning a second term in 2008, Hazouri became chairman. In 2015, Hazouri edged Republican Jeff Youngblood to win a sat on the city council.
Hazouri turns 73 in October and it’s hard to imagine he will take another shot at higher office. But it’s easy to envision him running for a second term in 2019. In the meantime, Hazouri will continue to make noise on the City Council. One of the longest and most uneven careers in Jacksonville politics shows no signs of ending just yet.