Editor’s note – This is the first of a series of recommendations that the Daytona Times staff will make for upcoming elections.
BY THE DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
Why Percy Williamson?
We believe that Daytona Beach, and by extension Volusia County, have all the ingredients for a bright future.
But Daytona Beach’s Black community currently lacks the strong leadership needed in Tallahassee to represent our interests both within Volusia County’s overwhelmingly Republican state delegation as well as on the state level.
Our area is confronting serious concerns, such as the inequitable allocation of financial resources; low wages; increasingly endangered ‘home rule,’ in which Tallahassee makes decisions for us; lack of affordable health care; and whether Bethune-Cookman University can survive its most recent series of crises, among other issues.
Critical times require critical thinkers and doers, not seat-warmers looking to use elected politics to make contacts and enjoy the ego-stroking and modest fringe benefits that go with holding an elected state position.
Williamson’s background and lifetime of accomplishments has prepared him well to provide the strong, practical, and principled leadership our community deserves.
He was one of six children raised in Daytona Beach Housing Authority’s Palmetto Park public housing development, primarily by a strong single mother. He was a student leader as well as a scholar and a star athlete throughout his 12 years of education in Volusia County’s public schools.
After graduating from Bethune-Cookman University as an honor student and outstanding basketball player with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, he went into banking with Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America, serving in the retail, commercial and community development areas.
He retired after 25 years as vice president and state manager of Bank of America’s Community-Based Finance Divisions, which funded and constructed community projects from Pensacola to Key West.
Those statewide contacts will serve us well as he works hard as an elected Democrat to succeed in a GOP-dominated Florida House.
Successful city tenure
After a successful banking career, former City Commissioners Yvonne Scarlett-Golden and Charles W. Cherry, Sr., convinced Williamson to return home, and immediately put him to work moving the city forward.
Williamson spent 14 years as director of Leisure Services for the City of Daytona Beach, where he used skill and perseverance to become a key player in the construction of the Midtown and Yvonne Scarlett Golden Centers and the Cypress Aquatic Center – an outstanding achievement, given the fact that the old Cypress Street pool, in the heart of Daytona’s Black community, had been shut down and abandoned by previous city administrations.
While at the city, Williamson managed a 120-member professional staff and oversaw an annual multimillion-dollar budget. During his tenure, Leisure Services was responsible for 38 parks and seven recreation centers.
His experience and leadership in the private sector and well-documented successes in Daytona Beach, along with his lifelong ties to the local community and throughout the state, position him to make an immediate impact in the state House – something that cannot be said for the incumbent, Patrick Henry.
Williamson says Henry committed “legislative malpractice” by supporting a bill to place a statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune in the U.S. Capitol – but that provided no state funding.
We agree. The real reason that Henry was able, with the assistance of Democratic Senate Leader Perry Thurston, to get the Bethune statue bill passed with virtually unanimous support of Republican legislators was because the statute will literally cost the state nothing. So the burden to raise the funds is on Mrs. Bethune’s family, friends, and supporters, including financially-beleaguered B-CU – of which Henry is a graduate.
If the Bethune bill is the best example of Henry’s legislative skills, those of us who live in District 26 better save some money and get ready to write some checks to Tallahassee if Henry wins a second term.
During his tenure as both a Daytona Beach city commissioner and as the incumbent state representative for District 26, constituents constantly complained to us about Henry’s lack of regular contact, his inaccessibility and his refusal to return phone calls.
One thing we can say is that Henry is consistent. His refusal to respond to our numerous contact attempts (phone, email, Facebook) asking him to submit to questions about his campaign platform makes it easier for us to recommend that you vote for Williamson.
DAYTONA TIMES RECOMMENDATION: Percy Williamson for Florida House District 26.