DIA picks Jacksonville City Councilwoman Lori Boyer as new CEO

Florida Times-Union |

--Lori Boyer, whose background in finance and deep understanding of city issues saw her become a leading voice on the Jacksonville City Council during her soon-to-end tenure, will be the new CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority.

The DIA's board of directors picked Boyer on Tuesday after interviewing her and two other finalists, Greg Flisram, a senior vice president for the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City, and Kevin Hanna, who was a finalist for the DIA's top job in 2013 and has worked for the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.

While Boyer has never worked for a downtown development agency, the board was still impressed by her resume -- before politics, she worked as an attorney and an executive of real-estate and management companies -- as well as her familiarity with downtown and Jacksonville's political landscape.

"I don't think there's a more passionate candidate," said board member Carol Worsham.

Boyer has held her district council seat, which represents San Marco and the surrounding area, since 2011. Term limits will force her to step down this summer.

During her first term, she quickly built a reputation as a sharp legislator who wasn't afraid to dig into the weeds. She scrutinized and opposed many of former Mayor Alvin Brown's initiatives in the waning years of his administration, although her commentary was measured and absent of the bomb-throwing rhetoric used by her colleagues.

These days, she's adopted a much friendlier tone with the Mayor's Office and has become one of Mayor Lenny Curry's strongest allies on the council.

The biggest hurdle Boyer had to overcome in the interview process was a recent opinion from the State Ethics Commission restricting her from lobbying the council for the next two years. The two-year lobbying ban comes from a state law aimed at shuttering the "revolving door" of legislators leaving public office and taking jobs to lobby the same body they served on.

Board members said they were concerned that she wouldn't be able to directly communicate with council members, who must approve deals the DIA uses to entice development, and asked Boyer how she would deal with the restriction.

Boyer acknowledged it would be a "handicap," but she said her experience on the council would give the DIA's initiatives credibility with council members, even if she couldn't personally speak with them. And if the DIA needed to lobby the council, Boyer said the agency could hire a lobbyist to handle that work until her cooling-off period expires.

When asked about her vision for downtown, Boyer said one of her goals would be increasing downtown's residential population to 10,000 residents in the next five years. She said accomplishing that goal would be a major step toward turning downtown into a thriving place.

"Industry relocates based on talent pool. Talent pool looks for a vibrant downtown," she said.

The other finalists impressed the board with their real-world experience in downtown redevelopment, and several board members pondered whether bringing an outsider would breathe fresh air into the city's fledgling, and at times struggling, downtown.

"I want a candidate who has been there and done this for a bigger city," said board member Todd Froats.

Board member Oliver Barakat countered Froats, saying that there are also risks in bringing in an outsider.

"We've had out-of-town people come in and bring in new ideas, but they didn't stick around," Barakat said. "With the internet, I don't think it takes a lot of work to figure out the best practices (from around the country.)"

The board members scored each candidate after their interviews, and Boyer emerged with the highest score. The board didn't say who finished second or third.

The DIA will now enter negotiations with Boyer to agree on her salary and start date.

___

(c)2019 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Visit The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) at www.jacksonville.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Comments

Watchlist

Symbol Last Price Change % Change
AAPL

     
AMZN

     
HD

     
JPM

     
IBM

     
BA

     
WMT

     
DIS

     
XOM

     

Can the Media Solve the Partisan Conflict?

Andrew McCarthy, Contributing Editor, The National Review; Michael Zeldin, CNN Legal Analyst; Celeste Katz, Senior Political Reporter, Glamour; Silvia Davi, SVP, Contributing Editor, Equities.com; and Doug Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media discuss how the media’s role has shaped the landscape for communicators and what the media is trying to do to reduce discord in society.