As city mulls decision on Donna Foundation’s Mother’s Day race permit, expert says damage is done

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – It’s still unclear if the city will issue a permit for the Donna Foundation’s Mother’s Day 5k run scheduled to take place before next month’s election.

The annual race, which was scheduled to take place again on May 13, is being asked by the city of Jacksonville to find a different date for its race this year.

City officials said that with Donna Deegan, founder and namesake of the Donna Foundation charity, currently running for mayor of Jacksonville, it would not be appropriate for the foundation’s 5k race to take place while early voting is underway and the May elections are only a few days away on May 16.

The Donna Foundation was encouraged to reschedule the race outside of the voting period.

Deegan, a Democrat, is running for mayor against Republican Daniel Davis.

Political observers said the back and forth on the race was already having an impact. But some told News4JAX it didn’t affect their decision.

News4JAX spoke to voters Thursday about the situation regarding the race and whether holding ahead of an election is a concern.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s a problem. I don’t even support her, but I wouldn’t be mad about it,” said voter Christine Hatt.

News4JAX asked readers if the fact that the city is suggesting the race be postponed until after the election concerns them.

“Absolutely not! The race for mayor has nothing to do with the race for Mother’s Day. It’s financially absurd to move a pre-planned event,” said Patrick Miko.

“Not really, but I get it. I would love to see both contestants in it and get together instead of all the negative publicity,” another reader said.

“It should be moved after Mother’s Day to clear up any traces of irregularities. The city shouldn’t be issuing permits,” another reader said.

But the mayor’s office is concerned about how the public perceives this and whether he’s showing support for Deegan. That’s why they wanted the foundation to postpone it for a week to the Saturday after the election. News4JAX political analyst Rick Mullaney said raising the issue in the first place actually hurts more.

“I’m confident that City Hall had no intention of creating this appearance problem,” Mullaney said. “But the request to move the date may have contributed to the very appearance issue. They talk about the appearance issue being that City Hall that the City of Jacksonville is inappropriately influencing the election.

Some city council members like Matt Carlucci have concerns about it and have said it’s more than political games.

“You know, not too long ago I called it the ‘silly season,'” Carlucci said. “Politics is that. It’s not as silly as it used to be and it’s become more serious. It’s become more vindictive, it’s become more strategic. And it’s become more unfair.

Carlucci has run for mayor before. In 2003 he was one of the candidates for the office when John Peyton was first elected mayor and during that campaign there was another run a month before the election, the Gate River Run. John Peyton’s family owns Gate Petroleum, the event’s title sponsor. At that time, John Delaney was mayor and there was then no public concern about the permit for this race. On Thursday, Peyton and Delaney had no comment regarding the current situation.

Looking at city rules, clearance is supposed to happen 90 days before an event. Donna’s race request was filed 50 days prior, but the rule isn’t set in stone. If it’s late, the city can decide to allow it, which it has done in the past, as long as it gets approval from the sheriff and other agencies in that race.

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