Mayor gets earful at community meeting

Dickerson Center meeting deals with everything from permits to city manager

Mayor
DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry addresses residents Tuesday at the Dickerson Center.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Residents took their concerns straight to Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry during a meeting Tuesday night at the John H. Dickerson Community Center.

The meeting, hosted by Henry, originated from circumstances surrounding an event that was shut down a month ago.

“Doo Day” was an event scheduled earlier this month intended to honor a murdered Daytona resident named Jerrod Swinton who died on March 1, 2016.

The event was shut down by law enforcement due to large crowds and large numbers of youngsters on off-road vehicles. The event organizers didn’t have permits or insurance.

“This meeting was intended to dispel any myths about city government. It targeted Zone 6 in particular,” Henry said.

Business owners balk

The mayor used the meeting as a way to educate residents on the city government, including its makeup and the functions of the mayor, commissioners and city manager. He also touted city accomplishments and disappointments.

During the meeting, numerous topics came up, relating to licenses, permits, fees, facility rentals, small business development, code enforcement, policing, and city governance.

Disgruntled business owners gave their spiel on how small and minority businesses are treated within the city.

“I used to have my business on MMB (Mary McLeod Bethune), but now I’m on MLK (Martin Luther King Boulevard). I was in a bad building where it rained inside of my building. I had to fight to get my money back. I even had a man come get naked and crap in the back of the building. The police wouldn’t come until way later,” said Monica Adolphe, owner of Elegant Fitness.

Jessica Foreman, co-owner of Saultee Kingz by Chef Count related, “I wanted my business in Midtown, but I’m located in Holly Hill. I tried to get in Midtown but my landlord was a slumlord. It took two years to remake the money we lost.’’

“We make business opportunities for everyone, but our locals. Like with the food truck rally, they all came from out of town. When you have businesses here, that can create jobs and economic opportunities,” Foreman added.

PHOTOS BY DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR. / HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Business owners and community leaders were among those attending Tuesday’s meeting at the Dickerson Center.

On city leadership

Residents voiced their displeasure with the city government power structure and even talked about looking into getting a new city manager or curbing its power.

“We need to get a new city manager. When you lack vision, this is what you get. We need to bring in someone with vision,” said resident Tony Servance.

Dwayne Murray, former Daytona Beach Fire Chief, added, “I came here in 2007, We had plenty of Black department heads in the city. Now we have maybe Keith Willis (Cultural & Leisure Services).

“We need more diversity in city leadership. I think many of them left – not that they wanted too. I left because I felt there was no need to fight because no one would fight with me. We need to revisit how we do our hiring and firing, which is controlled by the city manager,’’ he added.

Henry has no plans to address changes in regards to the city manager. Jim Chisholm holds that position.

“That is up to the commission. That is not something that I am go to put into the forefront. A few people who brought it tonight have run for public office,” Henry retorted.

‘In the same spot’

Volusia County/Daytona Beach NAACP President Cynthia Slater speaks.

Improving the area was also a hot topic of discussion for residents.

“When I look at the Daytona Times and they show their 40th anniversary, showing   where we were then compared to now, it’s sad. We’re in the same spot, sometimes worst,” expressed Pierre Louis.

“When you go to the other community meetings like Eggs & Issues, they discuss tax bases, revenue and so forth. When they fix the other areas, they use the CRA money but tell us in this area to wait until next year. We need to create more taxable entities in this area,’’ he added.

The next step

In the end, the mayor says that the meeting served its purpose.

“This is all about eliminating the gap between the residents and elected officials, including myself and finding ways to help them navigate through the complexities of city government,” Henry shared.

He further added, “I think this is a first step. These people are passionate about their community. I’m passionate as well and I should be equally compassionate about hearing from them. I think the things they said were good.”

The next step will be about taking action in assisting residents.

“As mayor, I just have to make myself available to help residents navigate through City Hall when they have problems with code enforcement, paying for permits and licenses as well as having our commission revisit prices that we charge for use of facilities and be available for meetings,’’ he added.

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