Jay Stowe resigned as CEO of JEA in April. | Will Brown, Jacksonville TodayJay Stowe resigned as CEO of JEA in April. | Will Brown, Jacksonville Today
Jay Stowe resigned as CEO of JEA in April. | Will Brown, Jacksonville Today

JEA CEO resigned over spending concerns, mayor says

Published on June 6, 2024 at 3:31 pm

The departure of Jay Stowe as CEO of JEA was related to the board’s concerns about spending at the city-owned utility, Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan said Thursday.

Deegan spoke for the first time about Stowe’s sudden departure during an appearance on First Coast Connect on WJCT News 89.9.

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Stowe resigned in April and was replaced by Vickie Cavey, a veteran JEA manager.

Deegan said she was surprised but not particularly troubled by how quickly Stowe left. She said the utility’s Board of Governors had concerns about how money was being spent.  

“At this point I’m gonna have to let that board do its job,” Deegan said. “I don’t know that there was any wrongdoing there. I don’t think anybody has determined there was, but at this point, what I have been brought in on seems to make some sense to me,” 

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Board Chair Joseph DiSalvo said at the time that Stowe’s separation was mutually agreed upon for the board to move in a different direction under new leadership.

“I want to clearly state this mutual decision has nothing to do with anything related to misconduct or any ethical transgressions,” DiSalvo said. “On behalf of the board, I want to thank Jay for leading JEA out from the 2020 scandal and restoring focus and credibility to JEA.”

Stowe took over as CEO in November 2020. He replaced Paul McElroy, who was serving on an interim basis after the firing of then-CEO Aaron Zahn.

Zahn was found guilty by a federal jury April 15 of attempting to defraud the utility in a scheme that would have resulted in Zahn’s making millions of dollars in bonuses if JEA had been sold.

Former Chief Financial Officer Ryan Wannemacher also was charged but was found not guilty.

Stowe was credited with steadying the utility after Zahn’s departure. But reports emerged before his separation that he and the board conflicted over financial direction.

Stowe also faced criticism for allowing certain executives to live in other states while working for JEA. And a public backlash followed reports that JEA spent $72,000 for a holiday party for employees at the Florida Theater.


author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.
author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.

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