Daytona Beach mayoral candidates share why they should be elected

Editor’s note: Both the electronic pdfs and the ‘hard copies’ of this week’s Daytona Times incorrectly identify Patrick Henry as his brother, mayoral candidate Derrick Henry. We apologize for the error, which has been corrected in this story and will be corrected on next week’s front page. 


Daytona Beach residents could know on Aug. 14 who will be their next mayor.

Gwen Azama-Edwards, left, and Edith Shelley, center, are the two female candidates for mayor of Daytona Beach. They will face Fred Hoffman and Derrick Henry. Current Zone 5 Commissioner Patrick Henry is shown in the photo on the right with Volusia County Councilman Josh Wagner, who is seeking to keep his District 2 seat. (PHOTOS BY ANDREAS BUTLER/DAYTONA TIMES )

The contest could be narrowed down to the top two vote getters unless one of the four candidates vying for the seat being vacated by Mayor Glenn Ritchey receives 50 percent plus one of the votes cast during this primary.

If no one gets a majority of the votes, the top two face each other in the Nov. 6 general election.

The candidates are current Zone 2 Commissioner Edith Shelley; Gwen Azama-Edwards, a former city commissioner and city clerk; Derrick Henry, educator and a former commissioner; and Fred Hoffman, Realtor and hotel owner.

Three candidates answered questions provided to them by the Daytona Times.

Prior to the questions being sent out, Hoffman presented information via his website. A profile on Hoffman appeared in the July 19 issue of the Daytona Times.

If elected, Azama-Edwards would be the second Black female mayor of Daytona Beach, following Yvonne Scarlett Golden, who was elected in 2003. She died of cancer in 2006.

Azama-Edwards is quick to boast about her prior experience as city clerk/assistant to city manager for 15 years with the City of Daytona Beach. She also mentions her two-year term as a city commissioner and having chaired and held leadership positions on more than 40 boards/committees in the city, county, state and at national levels.

“I am running for this office because there is still a disconnect between what the people of the city want and what they receive,” Azama-Edwards said.

“Elected officials don’t seem to understand that there are people hurting in our city.  They (residents) have unmet needs that grow as hope dwindles yearly.

‘Promises made, promises kept’
Azama-Edwards said increasing spending and fees is something she is not planning.

There is a need for more recreational activities for youth, families and seniors, she said. She also wants to increase staff for such programs.

“We need someone responsive to the needs of existing residents and businesses and neighborhood concerns,” she explained.

“People have found me to be trustworthy, a person who follows through and keeps my word, promises made, promises kept,” she continued.

As mayor, Azama-Edwards says her priorities would be bringing better paying jobs to the city; improving relationships between the city and existing businesses; cleaning up and protecting neighborhoods; and improving the city’s image internally and externally.

“Campaigning time will not be the only time residents and businesses see me in their neighborhoods.

Fred Hoffman

I will form committees made up of residents and businesses who live with the problems, giving them a voice and opportunity to help us take action to solve those problems,” said Azama-Edwards.

Azama-Edwards says she plans to host three summits during her first term – one for youth, the second for businesses and the third involving residents.

She says the city needs more grant writers who know how and where to look for funds. She supports increased code enforcement and hiring more law enforcement.

“All top-level and well-paid staff should be required to live in the city as in the ordinance we passed when I was on the commission. I also like the commission’s requirement of new businesses to hire 50 percent of local residents,” said Azama-Edwards.

More funds wanted for 32114 zip code
She also questioned the current commission’s decision to install red-light cameras in the city. “Another idea – with not great results,” she remarked.

“We should not have set a budget with expected income from something unproven.  Now that we have them (red-light cameras), we can keep a few at key intersections where traffic accidents had been a major issue before the red-light cameras were added,” Azama-Edwards noted.

“They, however, need to be reduced and redistributed from the poorer areas of the city because there appears to be an inordinate number of red-light cameras surrounding the poorer parts of the city. We do not need more of them due to the inherent costs associated with them and still questionable accident reductions, neither of which appear to justify having them.

She concluded, “The 32114 zip code area is the most disadvantaged section of Daytona Beach and needs some serious dedicated funds and services. I will work with social service agencies and others to increase the quality of life for individuals living in this area and the city overall.’’

Azama-Edwards is married to the Rev. Larry Edwards of St. John Missionary Baptist Church and they have raised two sons.

Derrick Henry cited being re-elected twice to the Daytona Beach City Commission with over 65 percent of the vote as one reason he should be elected mayor.

He noted that he also served as chairman of the Daytona Beach Visions Infrastructure committee.
Henry was removed from his Zone 5 commission seat by Gov. Charlie Crist after he was charged with conspiracy to commit voter fraud and illegally obtaining absentee ballots.

After paying fines and completing other orders by a judge, the charges against Henry were dropped last year. Henry has said in interviews he never intended to break the law and was working with his campaign manager only to increase voter turnout.

After reaching a plea deal, Henry officially resigned as a city commissioner and his job with Volusia County Schools after having been reassigned from his assistant principal position at Mainland High School.

Henry focusing on future, not past
Henry moved on with his life, got a new job and is married to Dr. Stephanie Henry.

He has a 25-year-old son, Michael, and recently celebrated the birth of his second child, Derrick Jr.
Patrick Henry, Derrick’s older brother, was elected to fill the city commission seat representing Zone 5 which he had resigned.

No love for Obama. Urging voters to help stop the president, supporters of the Republican Party of Volusia County provide a list of conservative candidates for potential voters at the Daytona Beach Regional Library City Island. (ASHLEY THOMAS/DAYTONA TIMES)

In spite of the legal issue, Henry said with his broad appeal, he is the best candidate to “unite the community from the beachside to the mainland, from the younger generation to the more seasoned members of our community.”

Henry explained that he has a history of focusing on issues that confront the least-served areas of the community as well as a record of strong and decisive decision-making that is not given to placating the traditional power brokers in the community but focused on the needs of the residents and the small business community.

‘One City, One Vision’
During his first term in office, Henry said he hopes to create a plan for a more comprehensive residency requirement for city staff; create a more effective local preference ordinance giving greater preference to businesses that are located in the city of Daytona Beach as it relates to city contracts; and do a complete review and overhaul of the budgeting process focused on finding cost-saving measures in each department.

Henry also wants to find a resolution to the impasse between the firefighters and the city; locate and identify funds for the restoration of Orange Avenue; and inspire residents to take ownership of the Yvonne Scarlett Golden Center and the Midtown Community Center with true community-based programs that are encouraged and supported by the city.

Henry has disagreed with a number of votes of the current commission.

“They have consistently voted with an apparent hostility toward business interest and failed to protect the core of the city,” Henry said.

He also noted the current commission and city staff are “consistently using legal rhetoric to justify their failure to protect Midtown.”

Henry said his top priority if elected will the restoration of the core areas of the city (Midtown and the Ridgewood corridor) with a focus on infrastructure improvements as a means of attracting new business to all redevelopment areas of the city.

The theme of his campaign has been “One City, One Vision,” which he says is the core of his platform – to ensure a fair distribution of the city’s resources to all segments of the city and to make certain that everyone is included in the vision of a better Daytona Beach.

“My entire life of public service has been focused on helping what the Bible refers to as “the least of these. I am not a Johnny come lately as it relates to the interest of the Black community,” Henry noted.

Henry was born and raised in Daytona Beach. He has served as a coordinator of the College Reach-Out Program at Daytona State College; directed the Sisters and Brothers Learning Experience (SABLE) and worked as head basketball coach at Mainland High School.

Henry touts accomplishments
Henry boasts that as a city commissioner, he voted to reduce taxes; pushed for the resurfacing of Derbyshire Road and Brentwood Road as well as sidewalks for Brentwood; supported over $8 million worth of infrastructure improvements – most in the blighted core of the city; supported the extension of Dunn Avenue; and helped create the Daytona Beach School of government for high school students; hosted forums for high school students and adult residents to share their concerns; and helped triple the attendance of the Westside Neighborhood Watch Group.

“As a teacher, coach, administrator, child advocate and local business owner, I have served thousands of residents in Daytona Beach, helping them to pursue their dreams and find solutions to the problems that confront them,” Henry added.

“I love Daytona Beach and want to rescue it from the hands of a small plutocracy of business elites and politicians who have been unable or unwilling to eliminate the city’s enormous blight; reduce its increasing poverty; curb its declining population; save its schools and post office, resolve the homeless and unemployment crisis. The mayor’s job will be a difficult one, but one that I am well prepared for.’’

Edith Shelley is currently a city commissioner representing Zone 1. She was elected to office in 2010 and resigned this year to run for mayor.

Shelley says she has the determination, drive, knowledge and experience to move the city forward.
Before being elected, she served on the city’s Planning Board for almost 20 years, working as chairman for half of that time.

Shelley says she is the only candidate with the depth of understanding of the city’s comprehensive plan and land development code needed to move Daytona Beach forward.

She also was chairmanship of the city’s Vision Committee.

Shelley believes she has a broad community-wide perspective and is a genuine people person with the understanding of the importance of crafting policy that works toward solutions for people.

‘Out in the community’
“The value of my years of service on the Planning Board is that I understand the complex issues facing our city. I have the historical knowledge and the proven ability to craft solutions for our community’s problems,” Shelley said.

“My record as chairman of the Daytona Beach Vision Committee demonstrates my ability to bring all segments of the city together to reach a common goal,” she continued.

As an elected official, Shelley prides herself for being “out in the community.”

“I will continue to be out in the community as your mayor. This is my home. My business is here.

My children were born and raised here. I listen to citizens in the barbershop. I listen to residents on their front porches. I ride my bike through the neighborhoods to have a personal contact with residents of our city. I am accessible and will continue to be accessible. You will not find a mayor who will work harder for this city than I will,” Shelley elaborated.

Shelley says Daytona Beach needs a leader who is able to make the hard decisions that will continue to move it forward during these difficult times.

She plans on being a positive and proactive leader.

Shelley: Orange Avenue repair a priority
If elected mayor, Shelley said she would adopt and implement the new land development code.

“This is a major tool to encourage both business and residential development. It will eliminate inconsistencies that discourage urban infill redevelopment and investment. This is vital to the implementation of the Midtown Redevelopment Area Master Plan,” Shelley said.

Shelley said the reconstruction of Orange Avenue will remain a top priority.

“A major part of that Midtown Redevelopment Master Plan is the repair and upgrade of Orange Avenue. The economic development and residential vitality of the core of our city is dependent on the Orange Avenue project. This commission has made Orange Avenue a top priority and I will continue to press for forward to accomplish this project. Not only to accomplish but to implement the complete street design envisioned in the Midtown Redevelopment Area Master Plan,” she continued.

Shelley praised the work she and her fellow commissioners have accomplished.

“This commission has worked well together trying to address the many issues that affect our city – storm water projects to address flooding in the core have been at the forefront,” she noted.

Under her term as commissioner so far, Shelley said the city completed the $1.6 million South Street storm water project; the North Street Pond and Park has now become a recreational opportunity for the neighborhood with a paved multiuse trail around the perimeter; and the North and Mark Street Flood Control Park has been completed.

The current commission also has approved additional storm water and flood control measures.

Shelley named NAACP trailblazer
Shelley also mentioned the construction of new Midtown Cultural and Educational Center and the new Daytona International Speedway Corporation Building, which were completed under her watch.

“The new land development code encourages incentives for green buildings. I will continue to support the implementation of these standards and incentives,” Shelley said.

“Several exciting projects will be moving forward during the next four years. These projects are the result of the foundation being laid now. Investors are looking at Daytona Beach in a new way. This commission is putting policies in place now that will be beneficial to assuring that projects will move forward in 2013 and 2014 to benefit the citizens of Daytona Beach. As your mayor, I will be positive and proactive in moving forward,” Shelley concluded.

Shelley has also served on the Downtown Ballough Road Redevelopment Area Advisory Board, Bethune-Cookman University Performing Arts Center Advisory Board, Mayor’s Community Advisory Board, Daytona Regional Chamber Local Government Committee and Volusia County Schools Impact Fee Committee.

Last year she received the Volusia County/Daytona Beach NAACP Trailblazer Award 2011.
Shelley and her husband, Denis, both natives of San Antonio, Texas, work in a law firm, Legacy Estate Planners, where she serves as government relations specialist.  They moved to the area 33 years ago.

What candidates raised
Shelley has raised the most money in her election campaign so far. She has amassed $60,973, having spent $27,703.

Azama-Edwards is in second place with contributions of $26,829, spending $20,160. Azama-Edwards said it is her goal to get the votes necessary to win outright. If she ends up in a runoff against Shelley, she would have to refill her campaign coffer, whereas Shelley still has almost half of her contributions.

Henry comes in third place raising $12,331 spending $10,386.

Hoffman brings up the rear in contributions with $2,024. He had spent it all as of July 20.


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