I was born in 1963, to Brent and Connie Hill, while they were stationed in Morocco Africa during my dad's time serving in the US NAVY. Around a year after my birth, the family traveled - with me, and my brother, Brent Troy, who is 2 years older than I am, back home to Jacksonville, Florida. The family returned and set up in a small home on Galveston Avenue and then later on West 5th Street for a time until my father’s service in the NAVY was complete. Dad then went into a career as a master pipe-fitter. We next moved to the Arlington neighborhood near where my mother had been raised and her family had set roots some generations before. In the 70s, the Hill family added a girl to the family, my sister Sherry. The home that I still consider my real childhood home is in the 6000 block of Gaillardia Road in Arlington - a very modest home when I drive by now. This home was base for the quintessential Arlington childhood that I would describes as not the best of anything and not the worst, but completely perfect. We never went to bed hungry and we experienced the most amazing adventures life could offer - all due to the sacrifice and hard work of my parents.
We traveled often as my dad would work shutdowns on out of town jobs, but each trip was an adventure and an incredible vacation with the struggle of life hidden from us kids by expert parents. The highlight of my childhood was a complete and incomprehensible trip as a family of five - completely, coast to coast, top to bottom, around this amazing country in a blue wood-side Plymouth station wagon - a trip that was done in around a month. Camping made it possible, but I still don't know how we covered almost every iconic feature this great country has to offer. It was very enriching and set up a zest for travel in my future.
My school background started at Lake Lucina Elementary and Arlington Heights Elementary, briefly attending a private school in 4th grade and on to Brentwood for 6th grade, followed by Douglas Anderson for 7th grade, then on to middle school at Arlington Middle and wrapping up public school with high school at Terry Parker, graduating in 1981. I went on to continue schooling at the Fire Department Training Center.
I worked a few jobs while training to be a firefighter. I worked in the Springfield Area as a helper for my dad on a plumbing truck. I found spending time under houses and in the business of downtown to be invaluable to me later on. I drove car parts and worked as a porter for Coggin Honda for a while and I learned to navigate the roads of my sprawled out city. But, it was my time working as an EMT for the ambulance service that shaped my field manor and ability to communicate under real life extreme situations all while completing the fire service training.
I was hired by the Atlantic Beach Fire Department starting almost to the day on my 20th birthday. I climbed the ranks to lieutenant by the age of 25 and over the career became a state certified fire inspector, fire officer 1, hazmat, including fire service instructor. I completed most of the available courses that the state fire college offered.
With the fire fighter's shift schedule and wages, it was time to control my own destiny so with a business partner, and some help from family and friends, I left a part time job at a local surf shop and went out on my own and opened my first real business, an outdoor shop that sold windsurfing, surfing, and skateboarding gear to the hardcore of each sport. The shop was called Aloha Wind and Surf and we helped many people get out and enjoy Jacksonville's waters.
Around this same time, my life took the most interesting and positive turn. We met on a blind date, then I courted, and eventually married my wife Della. Her strength and resolve is my keel and her wisdom is my light to steer by. We soon set up and established a home of our own in Atlantic Beach. Not long after this, while still on the fire department and having moved on from the retail shop world, I had become involved in the recreational marine industry in several capacities. I sold boats and worked off and on as a professional captain delivering and running boats back and forth to the Bahamas and teaching boating. A profession, that I found out later, I shared with my great- grandfather that had run the ferry in Arlington before the Mathews Bridge was built.
So around the time of my marriage to my wife Della, fate put me in front of a guy that had a background in event management and we shook hands that day and within an hour we launched an idea I had been working on, creating from scratch what would become known as the Southeast US Boat Show at Metropolitan Park and eventually adding the Oyster Jam Music Fest, events that were the economic engine for the marine industry creating millions and millions of dollars in sales and bringing tens of thousands of visitors downtown every spring. I have always been proud to bring the finest quality of life events to Jacksonville to help highlight what makes this area such an amazing place to live. Managing an event of this scale is a year round process and has every aspect of business one can imagine built into it. It has been an honor working with the team that makes this event what it has been for my city.
While working two jobs and building a business, the next most exciting chapter of life unfolded with the birth of my two boys; Skyler, who is now 17 and Tyden, who is now 13. Both boys have many interests, but most importantly they genuinely make me proud of them every day in some way. While being a father is the most challenging and rewarding thing I have done, with the support of my wife and our family, we have been extraordinarily blessed to live, travel, and enjoy the liberty this great nation provides.
I knew it was time to continue serving after retiring from the fire service, and I understand my civic duty. So, I ran for and, with a lot of help from neighbors, friends, and family, won a commission seat in the city within Duval County consolidated - the city of Atlantic Beach. I served for four years and am pleased with the things we accomplished while serving.
But, then in a very unexpected turn of events dealt to my business from the city I love so much, I found myself with a lot of free time and motivation to cleanup a real problem that has slipped into my city government. A problem that was destroying local owned business and operating behind closed doors and just happened to drag my business into its wake. As a result of this turn of events, I again, embark on a path towards my civic duty to serve. With your help I would like the next chapter to be a starting point so that we might return this city to its proper and best possible heading going forward.
I have never missed an opportunity to fight a good fight when the cause is just and the need is clear. From the time that I, a conservative republican, was elected to be the union president for the firefighters local 2622 to correct the more than 100% turn over rate in the work force - or the time we took unjust employment issues to the Florida Supreme Court and won - or the times I have helped lead efforts to keep access open to Huguenot Park for all, because special interest groups were attempting to close off the beach at this critical park used by hundreds of thousands of Jacksonville residents each year - or the times I went to Tallahassee to get a J bill passed with the help of my state representative to fix a bad law that never should have been passed - or just by simply serving on the F. W. C. Small Craft Sub-Committee to help keep open access to area waters for all.
I will stand up and do what is right - no matter what. Sometimes, it is the smallest things, like defending the Constitution of the United States every time some one attempts to steer around it - I won’t let injustice stand without resistance on my watch. And, this is our watch as American citizens - it’s our duty and I accept it enthusiastically.
I am a CHRISTIAN. I have not been very good at it, but I AM GETTING BETTER AT IT EVERYDAY.
This is a very personal subject and each of us is on our own personal walk of faith. I am behind most and ahead of a few in this area. I will attempt to frame my personal thoughts and beliefs as clearly as possible so that anyone who understands the grounding effect of a personal relationship with God can have, will be able to see and hear in my words where I am in this process. It is a process - my relationship with God is growing as a result of this task that I have been given. Everyday I am seeing the power and will of God in a way that I have not witnessed to this extent before.
I was raised Methodist and attended church on and off as a child. I was also exposed to a warm and caring Christian home. I feel that we had God in our lives at all times, but it was almost as if we tried not to bother God unless it was out of our hands - as opposed to the epiphany that I had some years back that it’s all in His hands - all the time.
Later in life, I met my wife and found she and her family were very involved and part of a church family. The experience left me understanding how God could be the center of a community and the amazing power of a close-knit church family. This experience helped to show me exactly what I knew and understood about my own relationship with God from a very young age.
I have had a sense of a clear destiny related to God’s use of me for His purpose, and I truly feel that His purpose for me involves this nation and its role in the world, and this nation is won or lost in my home city.