Leading Ladies  

Beaches Area Boasts Three Female Mayors for the First Time in History

From left, Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser, Jacksonville Beach Mayor Christine Hoffman, and Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown. 
Photo by laird

In 2020 Jacksonville Beach elected its first female mayor, Christine Hoffman; Atlantic Beach reelected Mayor Ellen Glasser; and Neptune Beach’s Mayor Elaine Brown was currently in office. This meant that history had been made—for the first time all three Beaches communities had female mayors. This lady triumvirate has become a synergistic team, leading their respective cities as well as bolstering each other and cementing close professional and personal relationships. These three women have different backgrounds and priorities, but as you’ll see from the interview below, there is also a lot of common ground. Perhaps their biggest strength and commonality is that they are contented Beaches residents themselves. In addition, they share an ability to read the needs of their fellow Beaches citizens, aligning their priorities. 

Atlantic Beach’s Mayor Glasser has lived in Atlantic Beach longer than anywhere else in her adult life. A Georgia native, she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Duke University and worked as a state probation officer before a distinguished career as an FBI special agent. After moving to Florida, Glasser became involved in many civic and community activities, including service on the Atlantic Beach Community Development Board, the Atlantic Beach Code Enforcement Board, Beaches Habitat Family Selection, and the Jacksonville Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women. Glasser was on the faculty of the University of North Florida (UNF) for seven years prior to first being elected as Atlantic Beach Mayor in 2017. 

Neptune Beach’s Mayor Brown has called Neptune Beach home for over 30 years and has owned a small business in the city for 16 years. Prior to her mayoral role, Brown served two terms on the Jacksonville City Council and has a long list of civic and community involvement. She has served on the boards of the Downtown Development Authority, Community Connections, I.M. Sulzbacher Center, March of Dimes, Cathedral Arts Project, and The Bridge of Northeast Florida. In the Beaches community, she has served on the Jarboe Park Revitalization Committee and currently chairs the A1A Scenic Highway Task Force, among other activities.

Jacksonville Beach’s first lady mayor, Mayor Hoffman, grew up in the Beaches area, a daughter of a naval officer who was twice stationed at Mayport Naval Station. Hoffman graduated from Fletcher High School and then the University of Florida, where she volunteered extensively with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and later became their executive director for the Beaches and Nassau and St. Johns counties. Hoffman then worked at TPC Sawgrass and served on the board for Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM). In 2014, she became the executive director for the Beaches Area Historical Society, which runs the Beaches Museum, a position she holds in tandem with her mayoral duties. She’s worked with Oceanside Rotary, Beaches Community Kitchen, Beaches Habitat, the USO, Mission House, the Salvation Army, and Beaches Fine Arts Series. 

To learn more about these mayors at this historic moment in time, we posed the same set of questions to each. They answered individually, but only after meeting up for a happy hour together. We believe this speaks volumes about their relationship.

What is unique about your Beaches city?

Glasser: When I moved here many years ago, I was immediately taken by the eclectic coastal charm, neighborly feel, and abundant natural resources of Atlantic Beach. I knew this would be my final home and the place where my husband and I would raise our children. 

Atlantic Beach has a unique story. We were a small community around 1900 when Henry Flagler picked our location to build the Mayport branch of the East Coast Railway. Years later, we became the City of Atlantic Beach where, today, we enjoy 18 parks, a two-mile stretch of public beach, a preserved marsh side, and a protected maritime tree canopy. With 14,000 residents, two vibrant commercial corridors, a low crime rate, a love of art and recreation—and all of it under the Florida sun—we are truly fortunate to call Atlantic Beach home. 

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Author: Arbus

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