Mayor Deegan’s choice for city’s top lawyer in danger of being rejected by city council

The woman who is the top choice of Mayor Donna Deegan to become the city’s next top lawyer is running into some resistance.

Deegan’s selection of former councilwoman Randy DeFoor, a Republican, for Jacksonville’s general counsel had been put on hold because of concern over a state rule that does not allow former city council members to take on a lobbying position for two years.

The city was waiting to hear if DeFoor’s role as general counsel would fall under that rule. But council members may vote on DeFoor’s appointment before they get any answer to their questions.

The situation has put city hall into a tailspin.

The city’s general counsel oversees legal opinions for many areas, not only at city hall but also in legal matters for various city agencies, and it carries lots of responsibility.

State rules about former city council members serving in other positions have both the mayor and council waiting on an opinion from the state ethics commission.

City council president Ron Salem has been worried that the mayor may appoint DeFoor in that spot temporarily.

“Last week during the storm and everything it was brought to my attention that the administration plans to appoint Randy DeFoor as the acting general counsel on October 1, or it’s under very serious consideration,” Salem said.

But the mayor’s office said on Tuesday that is not going to happen. It is waiting to see what the state has to say about the role, a spokesperson said.

DeFoor said she is surprised her appointment process has been more challenging than she anticipated.

“But you know this is the way it works this is politics,” she said Tuesday.

News4JAX has heard that some council members have said DeFoor is difficult to work with.

On Friday, the city council sent a list of 17 questions to the state ethics commission to find out if DeFoor or any other former city council member would have to sit out two years before becoming general counsel.

The mayor’s office also asked the commission for its opinion.

It was thought both the mayor and the council would wait until mid-October for an answer, but Salem said he would not wait until then, and a vote could come as early as the end of the month.

How this will play out depends on other council members and whether the mayor’s office will continue with the DeFoor nomination.

Last week, another one of Mayor Deegan’s nominations failed.

Deegan wanted another former city council member, Republican Al Ferraro, to run the city’s neighborhoods department despite not having a college degree. He pulled his name out of consideration because his lack of a degree became an issue for the city council.

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