Current city employee and former pastor to run for Cusack’s at-large seat
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Dr. L. Ronald Durham, the City of Daytona Beach’s Community Relations manager and former pastor of Greater Friendship Baptist Church, is running for office.
Durham will seek the Volusia County Council at-large seat in the 2018 election.
“I want to be part of the process to help shape the future of this county. If I am not a part of the process to help find solutions to the problems that we have here, then I can never complain about the decisions made that I do not agree with,” Durham told the Daytona Times.
The seat is currently held by Joyce Cusack who will term out; she is currently the only African-American serving on the council.
With Cusack’s blessing
It was Cusack who encouraged Durham to run.
“I would like to continue many of the things that she started in her successful terms on the council and add on more. She has been on the forefront of issues. She has also worked to bridge the gap between the east side and west side of the county. Her endorsement of me for this office is one of defining factors that challenged me to run. If not for her blessing and support, I probably wouldn’t run,” he related.
Durham is aware of the lack of diversity on the council and the likelihood that he would remain the only Black member.
“It’s important to have a county council that looks like the county and represents the interests of all segments of the county. I believe it is important to have African-Americans sitting on the council,” said Durham.
List of goals
Durham feels that he can actually make a difference.
He said, “I would like to focus on improving the lives of people here in Volusia county.”
Issues that Durham wants to tackle in office include: Improving roads and transportation, retention of existing businesses, attracting new businesses that would pay a living wage, balancing the county budget, access to affordable health care, finding solutions to homelessness and eventually eradicating homelessness in Volusia County.
Reducing crime and public safety is another major goal.
“I plan to work with the Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff (Mike) Chitwood to consistently broker innovation that can help men and women in law enforcement to do the best job they can to protect the citizens and to ensure public safety,” stated Durham.
The indivisible divide
Uniting the county and eradicating the “Palmetto Curtain’’ is another aim for Durham if elected to office.
Durham explained, “The ‘Palmetto Curtain’ is the invisible divide between the east side and west side of the county that I have come aware of as I work with the homeless issue in Daytona Beach.”
The current president of the Volusia County Black Democratic Party believes that his careers as a pastor and City of Daytona Beach employee have helped prepare him for office.
“I’ve been a pastor for 40 years and now working with the City of Daytona Beach, I now have a tremendous insight into the things that people in general look for in their individual lives as citizens in Volusia County. I have had the pleasure to talk to hundreds people as a pastor to see what their needs are,” Durham noted.
He further added, “Working with the City of Daytona Beach has given me the insight to see how government really functions and what the processes are to getting things accomplished in government. These two experiences have given me the insight to see both sides of both the public and government issues.”
Durham was born in Passaic, New Jersey, where he was raised by his grandparents who lived humbly. He graduated from Passaic High.
Durham earned his bachelor’s degree in theology at Shaw University and a master’s in theology at the American Bible Institute in Riverside, California.
He attended Evangel Christian University in Monroe, Louisiana, where he earned a doctorate’s degree in theology.
He has spent 40 years as a Baptist minister. He led Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Daytona Beach for 12 years.
Following his tenure at Greater Friendship, Durham was a community liaison with Halifax Health Hospice in Volusia and Flagler counties before joining the City of Daytona Beach.
In addition, Durham has worked as a civil rights activist and has led the Daytona Beach Chapter of the National Action Network.
He also is a former trustee of Bethune Cookman-University and former president of the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance. Durham also served as a co-chairman of F.A.I.T.H. (Fighting Against Injustice Towards Humanity).
Durham also is the author of a book titled “The Secret Power of Prayer’’ and has the distinction of being the first Black pastor to pray before the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway.