BY THE DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
For the past 12 years, the Daytona Times and WPUL-AM 1590 have maintained a consistent editorial policy of not recommending candidates who chose not to promote their candidacies through our media when they have media budgets available. The decision not to utilize the city’s long-time, well-established Black-owned media says to our readers and to us that a candidate is not serious about communicating to a key constituency – which might foretell what he or she might do once elected to office.
The Daytona Times sent out a candidate questionnaire to assist the staff in determining recommendations. We make NO RECOMMENDATIONS with regard to any of the races for U.S. Congress or the Florida Legislature other than as indicated here.
DAYTONA BEACH MAYOR: This newspaper has written for decades that city leadership must fix the deferred maintenance and crumbling infrastructure that disproportionately exists in Black communities spread across three city zones – the same blight that visitors see on Mason Avenue, George W. Engram Boulevard, Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard, International Speedway Boulevard, and Orange Avenue on their way to “The World’s Most Famous Beach.”
Previous city commissions took tax money from Black homeowners to build the rest of the city. And between Edith Shelley and Derrick Henry, we can’t tell which is willing to lead the fight against entrenched special interests – many of whom back Shelley – who continue to benefit from the status quo.
Is Shelley, who will happily appear at any Black-oriented event to shake a hand, a friendlier version of tax-cutting union buster Gov. Rick Scott? Can Henry, a political “lone wolf” who sees possible allies as threats and has managed a sloppy campaign back office, build coalitions that are necessary to get things done in Daytona’s weak-mayor form of government? Both thought it was important to reach out to Black Daytonans. NO RECOMMENDATION.
DAYTONA BEACH CITY COMMISSION, ZONE 2: Ruth Trager has been a longtime resident and business owner on Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard. Her opponent Carl Lentz is a local real estate broker who suggests retaining more volunteers for community centers instead of finding funds to hire full-time or part-time staff. To his credit, he is sincere about making a difference as an elected official; one day he will. Both thought it was important to reach out to Black Daytonans in their zone. RECOMMENDATION: RUTH TRAGER
DAYTONA BEACH CITY COMMISSION, ZONE 4: Incumbent Robert Gilliland did not return his questionnaire until after others were published in the Daytona Times last week, but trumpets his support of Midtown development. His opponent, Tom Kazcka is new to area politics and is a former Chicago policeman who says that disadvantaged areas of the city continue to be neglected. Neither Gilliland nor Kazcka thought it was important to reach out to Black Daytonans in their zone. NO RECOMMENDATION.
DAYTONA BEACH CITY COMMISSION ZONE 6: Paula Reed, an employee of Embry Riddle University, and opponent Cathy Washington, an employee at Bethune Cookman University, are both longtime residents. Both are members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Both are qualified. Both thought it was important to reach out to Black Daytonans in their zone. We prefer Reed’s energy and believe she’ll be a vigorous advocate for Zone 6. Both candidates should make sure local politics doesn’t destroy sisterhood within the local Delta chapter of which they are both members. RECOMMENDATION: PAULA REED.
VOLUSIA COUNTY SHERIFF: Incumbent Ben Johnson takes much credit for the reduction of crime under his watch; some credit is due. Unfortunately, he cannot boast about the diversity of his force. Nineteen Blacks and 27 Latinos out of a force of 450 is embarrassing. Johnson’s opponent, Wendell Bradford, would be the first Black elected to become Volusia’s sheriff and has been a deputy with the Seminole County Sheriff for 22 years. He cites 40 years of “cronyism” in VCSO as a major problem. Johnson thought it was important to reach out to Black Volusians; Bradford did not. NO RECOMMENDATION.
COUNTY COUNCIL CHAIR: Educator Carl Persis wants to lead the group he has been a part of since 2005. His opponent, U.S. Army veteran Jason Davis, will simplistically solve county problems by cutting taxes. Persis thought it was important to reach out to Black Volusians; Davis did not. RECOMMENDATION: CARL PERSIS.
VOLUSIA COUNTY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2: Incumbent Josh Wagner is a local attorney who has been accessible and willing to listen to new ideas. His challenger, Nancy Epps, is a former mayor of Ponce Inlet and a Bethune-Cookman University graduate who Wagner previously defeated by a close margin. Wagner thought it was important to reach out to Black Volusians; Epps did not. We see no reason to “fire’’ Wagner. RECOMMENDATION: JOSH WAGNER.
VOLUSIA COUNTY COUNCIL DISTRICT 4: Shannon McLeish is self-employed and is one of the organizers of Occupy Daytona. She aggressively sought to make the movement inclusive meeting with the Daytona Beach NAACP and also participating in the city’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations though she is a resident of Ormond Beach. Her opponent, Attorney Doug Daniels, turned in his questionnaire after the deadline, saying he “did not know (the Daytona Times was) connected with Charles Cherry’s family.” (The late Cherry, Sr. was a former client of Daniels.’) In his questionnaire, Daniels said, “Redevelopment of Daytona Beach’s core tourist area is a critical part of any county economic development plan.” McLeish thought it was important to reach out to Black Volusians; Daniels did not. RECOMMENDATION: SHANNON MCLEISH.
FLORIDA STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 6: Current Volusia County Council Chairman Frank Bruno places education as a state priority. His opponent, Dorothy Hukill, did not respond to the questionnaire. Bruno thought it was important to reach out to Black Volusians; Hukill did not. RECOMMENDATION: FRANK BRUNO.
VOLUSIA COUNTY JUDGE: Both Chris Kelley and his opponent, Adam Warren, worked as prosecutors. Both are from well-known local families. Kelley is the son of former Daytona Beach Mayor Larry Kelly; Warren is the son of the late Attorney Dan Warren and retired judge Stasia Warren. Both are qualified and have the relevant experience and background to be judges. Warren thought it was important to reach out to Black Volusians; Kelly did not. RECOMMENDATION: ADAM WARREN.
VOLUSIA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT 4: Challenger Linda Costello says the biggest challenge facing the board is poor student academic achievement, especially in the Black community. Her opponent, incumbent Judy Conte, did not respond to our questionnaire. Neither thought it was important to reach out to Black Volusians. NO RECOMMENDATION.
VOLUSIA COUNTY CLERK: Christine Sanders is a former deputy clerk of court who worked as a legal assistant and managed a law office. She says her opponent, longtime Diane Matousek, will retire with a lump sum of $601,000 in addition to her annual pension of $110,000. “Replacing her in this election will instantly save taxpayers $164,527 that will no longer have to be paid into her golden parachute,” according to Sanders. Neither thought it was important to reach out to Black Volusians. NO RECOMMENDATION.