BY JAMES HARPER
DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
It was standing room only at the Daytona Beach City Commission chambers on Nov. 14 as educator and former commissioner Derrick Henry was sworn in as the city’s first Black male mayor.
He follows in the footsteps of the first Black Mayor Yvonne Scarlett-Golden, who died in 2006 and was succeeded by Daytona Beach businessman Glenn Ritchey, who pass the gavel on to Henry at last week’s city commission meeting.
The oath of office was administered by Judge Hubert L. Grimes, who broke racial barriers himself as the first Black county judge of Volusia County in 1988 and the first circuit judge in the four-county Seventh Judicial Circuit in 1999.
Before administering the oath, Grimes addressed the crowd saying, “We are here for the moment they have dreamed about – the beginning of their season of official service to this community.”
Grimes said this was the third time he had administered the oath to Daytona Beach elected officials – the first was when Scarlett-Golden was elected in 2003; the second time was the swearing in of Ritchey. Last week, he officiated for Henry along with newly elected commissioners Carl Lentz of Zone 1 and Paula Reed for Zone 6.
Pam Woods of Zone 2 also was sworn in after being unopposed, and Zone 4 Commissioner Robert Gilliland was successful in defending his seat for another term.
Grimes said to the packed chamber and the overflow crowd listening in the lobby of City Hall that the success of the elected officials “can only be assured by the support of their constituents, stakeholders, staff and citizenry.”
Grimes concluded by saying to those being sworn in, “The citizens have put their trust in each of you. Lead the city into further greatness. ….Goals (are) to make a very good – even a great city even better.”
During the installation service, Henry recognized his opponent for the mayor’s seat former Zone 1 Commissioner Edith Shelley as well as outgoing mayor Ritchey. He praised them and presented both with a plaque from the city.
“Over last 20 years, you have been dedicated to city of Daytona Beach. You’ve done the city a great service serving as city commissioner. Your attention to detail, your passion for all of the issues is unmatched and unequaled,” Henry said of Shelley.
Henry also had accolades for Ritchey.
“We lost our mayor (Scarlett-Golden) at a tough time. You stepped in and filled her enormous shoes in an admirable way. I have come to know you not only as a big man but a giant of a leader. My expectation is for you to offer me personal guidance and advice as I inhabit the seat you are now leaving,” Henry said to Ritchey.
“I’ll be your friend,” Ritchey responded, with a handshake and hug for Henry.
“Daytona Beach is poised for great things. You will lead it over the goal line,” Ritchey concluded.
“It’s been quite a journey,” Henry said in reference to his campaign to be mayor.
“I don’t like to measure things. God puts us here and we are to go through life and stay even. When I was a classroom teacher, I would remind my students – ‘It’s a great day to be among the living.’ Last year has been an amazing year,” Henry remarked.
Henry thanked his many volunteers but singled out his wife, Dr. Stephanie Henry; parents Agnes Houston and Clinton Henry; his campaign treasurer Sandra Strapp; and his campaign manager Maureen Durham and her husband, Dr. L. Ronald Durham.
“Two people who made the greatest sacrifice – my wife and her husband,” Henry said about Maureen Durham to laughter.
“I am a hard worker. I believe in Daytona Beach. I see the big picture. I see what we can become,” Henry concluded.
Newly elected Zone 6 Commissioner Paula Reed, an employee at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, said that when she returned back to Daytona Beach 17 years ago she knew she had a responsibility to participate and engage and share what she had been blessed with.
“It’s time to sit at the big table and try to make a difference in the city I was born in and the city I love. I believe I was called to make a difference. It’s time Zone 6 had a voice – someone not afraid to speak, speak up and speak out, ask questions and to seek answers,” Reed declared.
New Zone 1 Commissioner Carl Lentz, a local Realtor, told the audience it was exciting for him to be present, also noting he had “relatives looking down on him with pride.”
During the last month of his campaign, Lentz first lost his grandmother, then his grandfather and parents of his mom Cheryl Lentz.
“Two weeks ago my mom buried her mother. Next week she will bury her father. My grandfather was an elected official…. Grandparents married for 63 years. He (grandfather) was my biggest supporter. He waited around to see his grandson get elected,” Lentz said, choking back the tears. He also acknowledged his own father, Rick Lentz, for his support.