Claire Heddles
Claire has been a reporter in Jacksonville since August of 2021. She was previously the local host of "NPR's Morning Edition" at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926, claire@jaxtoday.org or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.
Featured image for “State law should protect Nassau Gullah/Geechee cemeteries, but lawmakers didn’t close loopholes”
September 21, 2022

State law should protect Nassau Gullah/Geechee cemeteries, but lawmakers didn’t close loopholes

This is Part 2 of a two-part Jacksonville Today series. Read Part 1.  For decades, Madelyn Dinkins-Smith’s family members have been buried in Gross Cemetery in rural Nassau County. Her grandfather, grandmother, aunt and uncle are laid to rest in the rural plot in a Rayonier-owned forest — a place where some of them worked in logging for the timber

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Featured image for “Gullah/Geechee families fight to protect burial sites in Nassau County’s Wildlight development”
September 20, 2022

Gullah/Geechee families fight to protect burial sites in Nassau County’s Wildlight development

This is Part 1 of a two-part Jacksonville Today series. Read Part 2.  Deep in the woods of Nassau County, on Rayonier-owned logging land near the St. Marys River, is a fenced-in area with a few dozen stakes in the ground. Each one marks a likely grave site. A “No trespassing” sign hangs on the gate.  This historic Gullah/Geechee cemetery, known

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Featured image for “Jacksonville Sheriff debate: Waters highlights experience and Burton champions change ”
September 15, 2022

Jacksonville Sheriff debate: Waters highlights experience and Burton champions change 

Jacksonville sheriff candidates Lakesha Burton (D) and T.K. Waters (R) answered questions about crime, police misconduct, money and more during Thursday’s candidate debate hosted by Jacksonville Today and the Jacksonville Bar Association. It was their first public debate since the August 23 election, when Waters got 47% of the vote to Burton’s 33%. Because no candidate got more than half

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Featured image for “#AskJAXTDY: Why wasn’t the school tax referendum during the general election when more people vote?”
August 26, 2022

#AskJAXTDY: Why wasn’t the school tax referendum during the general election when more people vote?

With the August primary in the books, and most races going to runoff elections November 8, the Jacksonville Today team is answering your voting questions.  About 29% of Duval voters cast a ballot in the primaries this week, and 53% of those voters agreed to increase property taxes to fund teacher pay raises, arts and athletics in Duval Schools. But

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Featured image for “Duval voters approve higher tax for schools; DeSantis-endorsed School Board candidates win”
August 23, 2022

Duval voters approve higher tax for schools; DeSantis-endorsed School Board candidates win

The Duval school district is getting another financial boost from voters. With 53% of the vote, Duval voters on Tuesday signed off on a four-year, 1-mill property tax increase to go toward teacher pay, arts and athletics.  Also on Tuesday, two Duval School Board candidates endorsed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won their races. Incumbent Charlotte Joyce beat challenger Tanya

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Featured image for “Sheriff candidate T.K. Waters says his voter registration is ‘inadvertently’ out of date”
August 18, 2022

Sheriff candidate T.K. Waters says his voter registration is ‘inadvertently’ out of date

Jacksonville sheriff candidate T.K. Waters says he “inadvertently” remained registered to vote at an old address while waiting for his permanent home to be built. Waters has already voted in the Aug. 23 primary, though his voter registration hasn’t been updated since 2018, according to voting records Jacksonville Today obtained from the Duval Election Supervisor’s Office. Florida law requires voters

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Featured image for “AUG. 23 VOTER GUIDE: Duval School Board District 6”
August 10, 2022

AUG. 23 VOTER GUIDE: Duval School Board District 6

Challenger Tanya Hardaker and incumbent Charlotte Joyce are facing off to represent District 6 on the Duval County School Board. Because there are only two candidates, the August primary will determine the outcome. District 6 covers most of southwest Duval County, including Argyle Forest, Avondale and Riverside. It’s a nonpartisan race, which means all District 6 voters will be able

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Featured image for “#AskJAXTDY: Will the proposed property tax for schools compound each year?”
August 9, 2022

#AskJAXTDY: Will the proposed property tax for schools compound each year?

The Jacksonville Today team is answering your voting questions ahead of the August 23rd primaries. A hot topic? The Duval Schools referendum to increase property taxes by 1 mill to increase teacher pay and boost sports and arts programs.  In Jacksonville Today’s voter guide on the proposal, we explained how schools are funded, and who’s for and against the referendum.

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Featured image for “AUG. 23 VOTER GUIDE: Florida House District 14”
August 4, 2022

AUG. 23 VOTER GUIDE: Florida House District 14

Four Democrats are on the August ballot for the newly drawn state House District 14. The previous District 14 was represented by Democrat Angie Nixon, who is now running in District 13 after the Florida Legislature’s redistricting. The race is closed, meaning only voters registered as Democrats can cast a ballot. That’s because of a last-minute, write-in candidate filing from

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Featured image for “AUG. 23 VOTER GUIDE: Property tax increase for Duval Schools”
August 3, 2022

AUG. 23 VOTER GUIDE: Property tax increase for Duval Schools

The Duval County School Board is asking property owners to pitch in more for public schools. All Duval voters are eligible to cast a ballot in the August referendum. What’s on the ballot The ballot asks voters to tick yes or no on whether the school district should “levy an ad valorem operating millage of 1 mill annually to attract

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