BY JAMES HARPER
Volusia County Council’s only Black representative is upset that a majority of her council members voted Feb. 28 to reduce the number of people she can appoint to the Halifax Area Advertising Authority (HAAA).
The vote of the council comes as attorney Ted Doran, who County Council At-large Member Joyce Cusack, appointed to the board two years ago, announced this week that he is not seeking another term on the board. The HAAA determines how funds are spent to promote Daytona Beach and surrounding cities as a tourist destination.
Before Cusack was elected to the council, no Blacks had ever served on the board, which is funded by bed taxes paid by tourists who stay in area hotels and motels. The HAAA oversees the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“This is a direct target at me and the chair. All of sudden this has to change,” said Cusack. Chair Jason Davis, who was elected to the board last November, also had his number of appointments to the HAAA board reduced.
“They took away one of my appointments because they didn’t like who I was appointing,” Cusack said of the four who supported the resolution led by Councilwoman Pat Northey.
Among Cusack’s first appointments two years ago was Kathryn Bryant, who is Black. She resigned for personal reasons last July.
Doran is not the only HAAA board member who will be replaced for another two-year term when the County Council makes appointments at its April 4 meeting.
The lone remaining Black on the board, Sophia Huger, who was appointed by District 2 Council Joshua Wagner, also announced this week she was not seeking reappointment to the board. This will mean there are no Blacks on the board.
Wagner voted against the change in rules along with Cusack. “Not only does it reduce the amount of appointments for the Chair and the at-large member, it changes the way people are reappointed,” Wagner said.
“If (appointee) they miss two meetings in one year, the original council member does not get an appointment. It moves to the next county council member in line,” he continued.
Wagner said Huger, who works as director of sales for Perry’s Ocean Edge Resort in Daytona Beach, did an amazing job while on the board and he has heard from several people who want to replace her and another vacancy he is responsible for filling.
“I have spoken to many individuals about the board appointments. However, I do not think we have received applications from any Black members of our community,” Wagner noted.
The HAAA shall consist of seven members who are selected by a majority vote of the county council.
In an interview with the Daytona Times this week, Cusack said the council reduced her number of appointments on the board from three to two.
Cusack also is upset that the council voted to prevent her and other members from appointing a replacement if their appointment quits or is asked to leave the board.
“If one of my appointments misses two meetings, I don’t have a chance to reappoint. Whoever I appoint, I have to make sure they are able to complete their term and they will not miss any meetings,” Cusack said.
The failure of an authority member to attend two meetings during any year ending on Dec. 31, regardless of reason, automatically creates a vacancy immediately following the second absence.
Blacks don’t apply
Cusack wants to see more diversity on the board and is also upset that more Blacks are not submitting their names to be on county boards.
“There are no Blacks who have applied to be on the HAAA board. They don’t apply. Anybody who applies and is qualified to serve on the boards, I will appoint,” Cusack said, recalling how she caught flack from Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood last summer when she appointed Pravin “P.M.” Patel, the owner of the Heritage Inn, a motel on Ridgewood Avenue the HAAA.
Cusack said she will be reappointing Patel to the board in April since he was filling a vacancy of a board member who quit last year.