Local candidate swears off cash donations | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A newcomer to the local political scene is making a risky move in order to try and make a difference.
Jason Tetlak, a Democrat, is running for Jacksonville City Council in district 14, which represents the Riverside, Ortega and Avondale areas.
"I've just kind of decided I don't want to do things the way they've always been done. I want to do things the right way," he told First Coast News during an interview at Memorial Park on Thursday morning.
Tetlak said since moving to the area 15 years ago, he's been making a list of changes he'd like to see made in government.
Then, when Jacksonville failed to pass a comprehensive human rights ordinance, he said he knew he had to run for office.
"I think city hall needs a jolt of energy for somebody's not an insider," Tetlak said in a three minute campaign video online.
But unlike traditional city council campaigns, the husband and father is walking away from cold hard cash.
In the same video that he said he shot alone on his smart phone, Tetlak vowed to not take any donations for his campaign.
He said in the video, "I don't want your money, and I won't accept it even if you offer it to me."
Tetlak told FCN in person he believes money is running local politics and people are ready for a change.
"I think people should expect their local representatives to do what's best for the voter and not to a developer or somebody contributing a lot of money," he explained.
So, his plan is to make campaign materials like yard signs by hand out of used pallets. Tetlak said spending money on new ones seems like a waste.
"If you're driving down the road and you see 40 campaign signs on the side of the road, it's just white noise. It's not effective," he stated.
Instead, Tetlak would like his supporters to use their time to volunteer for his campaign by knocking on doors and spreading the word on social media and donate their money to worthy causes around Jacksonville.
"That money would be better spent donated to our schools, or cleaning up our river," he said in the video.
Such a move is undoubtedly a bold one for a candidate with little name recognition in a crowded political landscape locally.
But he remains confident. He said winning to him does not necessarily mean a seat inside city hall.
"Whether I win or lose, I want to make sure I am making a difference while I am in the race," he said.
First Coast News checked the latest financial filings for all candidates in the district 14 race.
Tetlak and one other candidate are far outpaced by incumbent, Councilman Jim Love, a Republican, who's raised more than $30,000.
Love told First Coast News Tetlak's tactic is unusual for the area, but that it won't change how he fundraises.
"That wouldn't be smart. Someone else could always get in the race who has money," Love said on the phone.
The election is in March 2015.