After 45 years on the political stage, Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri scored another win on Tuesday night as he won another four year term.
Insisting it was his “last hurrah,” Hazouri, now 74, turned away the challenge of Republican Greg Rachal, racking up more than 58 percent of the vote to keep his at-large council seat.
Hazouri’s second term 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 of Jacksonville 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 has shown so signs of slowing down during his time on the city council. In 2017 for example, Hazouri and John Crescimbeni helped kill an effort to end the current limit of two terms for city officials. For that, Hazouri received the praise of term limit activists, including 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. “Tommy Hazouri did the city a great service by exposing the self-serving nature of this bill.”
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 led the charge to add a Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) in Jacksonville which passed in 2017.
Jacksonville has grown tremendously in the past four and a half decades yet Hazouri has remained on the political stage all that time while most of his contemporaries died or moved into higher education or business or simply retired. Still, with his latest win, Hazouri looks set to end his roller=coaster political career on a high note--and Jacksonville residents should expect their former mayor to remain one of the most active members of the City Council. When he bows off the political stage in 2023, Hazouri will have been on it for almost half a century, easily making him one of the longest surviving politicians in Jacksonville's history. That's no small feat considering all of the changes over that time.