A July 15 image of Councilman Rory Diamond after he arrived at his U.S. Army deployment, tagged with the words "Made it! And, it’s very hot." | Rory Diamond on X (formerly Twitter)A July 15 image of Councilman Rory Diamond after he arrived at his U.S. Army deployment, tagged with the words "Made it! And, it’s very hot." | Rory Diamond on X (formerly Twitter)
A July 15 image of Councilman Rory Diamond after he arrived at his U.S. Army deployment, tagged with the words "Made it! And, it’s very hot." | Rory Diamond on X (formerly Twitter)

#AskJAXTDY | Who’s listening to the Beaches while Councilman Rory Diamond is deployed?

Published on October 17, 2023 at 12:08 pm

Q. Jacksonville Today newsletter reader Martha B. has a question about a City Council member who has not been at his desk in City Hall for almost four months.

“Is someone representing the Beaches?”

Rory Diamond, the representative for Council District 13, was elected last spring to a second term. He also is a member of the Florida Army National Guard and has been on deployments and military training sessions over the past year, taking time from his City Council job.

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Then in June, Diamond, also an attorney, announced that he was being deployed overseas after becoming a judge advocate general in 2022.

Diamond’s social media page on X, formerly known as Twitter, shows an image of him on July 15 in U.S. Army camouflage in a hangar with stacks of military gear behind him. “Made it!” he posted. “And, it’s very hot.”

That resulted in an #AskJAXTDY question from Martha B.: “Is Rory back from his deployment? Is someone representing the Beaches?”

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A: Diamond has been excused from every City Council meeting since August 2022 because of military training and deployments. On his X page, he has posted images of himself in uniform at unspecified locations, such as on a military transport plane. Another post showed a ship docked in the Arabian Gulf. And he did post updates about Hurricane Idalia for his constituents.

Diamond shot this selfie while on a military transport plane over the summer | Rory Diamond via X

Diamond had a videotaped message from overseas played at Mayor Donna Deegan’s town meeting Aug. 7 in Neptune Beach, standing under camouflage netting at an undisclosed site. He has never stated where he is being posted.

When asked this week if Diamond was reachable for an interview with Jacksonville Today, his council aide, Makenzi Conner, sent a statement from Army spokeswoman Major Mazi Markel, who said the first lieutenant is “on involuntary mobilization” in support of the U.S. Central Command and “will be available to respond to further inquiries upon his return home.”

“For security reasons, this date cannot be disclosed at this time,” Markel said. “To date, 1LT Diamond has conducted two military trainings as mandated by the US Army to qualify him in his current role in which he’s currently serving as ordered.”

Diamond’s deployment could last through the end of the year, according to a memo he submitted for being excused from all City Council business, the Florida Times-Union reported.

As to who is handling constituent issues in his district, which encompasses Atlantic, Jacksonville and Neptune beaches as well as Mayport and the Intercoastal West area, Conner said the district office remains open. Constituents can call (904) 255-5213 or email RDiamond@coj.net.

“I am here to help the constituents with any issues they have,” Conner said in an email responding to questions. “Other council members have happily met with some of our constituents on issues that require legislation.”

Because he is on deployment, Diamond cannot vote at City Council meetings. Proxy voting is not allowed.

Diamond is not the only City Council member whose circumstances mean some meetings will be missed.

City Councilman Terrance Freeman announced in late September on X that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He said he and his family were thankful the cancer was caught early treatment was set to begin. It was important “to be transparent about where I am with this diagnosis and acknowledge that I will miss council meetings in the months ahead,” he said.

“We are going to fight with every ounce of energy we have, and we will win,” Freeman said on X.

Have a question you’d like the Jacksonville Today team to look into? Email news@jaxtoday.org with #AskJAXTDY in the subject line, and you might see your answer soon.

author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 email Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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