Incumbent Kevin Reid faces newcomer Matthew Johnson in the race for DeLand City Commission Seat 5.
Commissioners, who are elected citywide, serve four-year terms and receive an annual salary of $11,601 and change.
The primary takes place Aug. 23.
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Seat 5 candidates
Johnson, 44, is an online/digital marketing manager and business owner.
State business records list Johnson as a manager of On Target Digital, LLC, and Volusia Parents for Freedom, LLC. While the latter, which was filed nearly a year ago, is still listed as active on Sunbiz.org, the website and social media accounts are no longer active.
Johnson said he decided to cease its operations as he was concerned about it potentially being a conflict of interest given his candidacy.
Volusia Parents for Freedom is described as a "grassroots organization made up of working moms and dads in Volusia County with a hardworking staff of volunteers striving every day to make Volusia County a freer and more prosperous place," according to a Google cached page of the inactive website.
Johnson, who describes himself as politically active, said he's never run for office or been appointed to governing board. He said he served on a board for the nonprofit White Lion Against Domestic Violence from 2013-2015.
His priorities include:
Government transparency: I believe far too often elected officials ignore the people they are elected to represent on behalf of special interests and large donors. I will be the opposite, a true representative of the constituents who understands their concerns.
Government overreach: Government's No. 1 job is to protect the rights of the people rather than assert their will or push an agenda.
Unsustainable over development: I feel the rate of new expensive housing options is not sustainable for those who currently live and work here in DeLand. We should be focusing on affordable options for current struggling residents instead, while still planning for organic growth of the community.
Reid, 39, is an accounting manager with Brown & Brown Inc. He served on the city's planning board as well as the joint city-county coordinating committee before being elected in 2018 to the City Commission. Reid also is a member on the city's audit committee. He previously was a member of the finance, taxation and personnel policy committee with the Florida League of Cities.
His priorities include:
Managing growth: This was a key factor in the 2022-23 budget process, with priorities set to update Land Code and investments in infrastructure. DeLand’s focus on growth should be targeted to our downtown core with residential options that limit sprawl and support our local businesses with additional foot traffic.
Construction of additional practice fields for youth sports: Needed for years, I expressed the need in the city’s strategic planning meetings at the start of the budget process. I am happy to report the project is in the current budget and we will soon have additional playing fields.
Investment in positive community relationships: I support creating opportunities to strengthen foundations of community relations. For example, the investment the police department has with the Police Athletic League, creating a program that uses activities like cooking, fishing and photography, along with other sports to create a positive interaction between our police and youth in the community.
The following questions were posed to each candidate with a request to limit responses to 100 words. Answers are presented as they were submitted, save for minor corrections to punctuation.
In your opinion, what is DeLand's most pressing issue, and what efforts would you make to address it?
Johnson: I believe the most pressing issue in DeLand is that the same names are being recycled over and over between the planning boards, committees and commission seats. I see the people of DeLand having their voices ignored and can't help but to think it's time for a change. I'm running to be that change as someone whose goal is to be a voice for the people.
Reid: Growth continues to be my top concern, balancing the needs of the community, such as affordable housing options, and keeping pace with service needs of a growing community. I believe focusing on growth in downtown residential will help to reduce sprawl in our community and strengthen businesses with additional reliable foot traffic. DeLand has been a destination for central Florida residents, which is an important component, but downtown needs residents to sustain a healthy local economy.
In your opinion, what is DeLand's best feature, and how can it be expanded on?
Johnson: For me, the best feature about DeLand is its small-town feel with a great downtown experience. My family and I live just minutes from downtown and love all the city has to offer, especially the rich cultural atmosphere and sense of community.
Reid: DeLand is great because of the people that make up our community; our small feel is because of individuals investing in our community through service. We are blessed with organizations working continually to make a difference; organizations such as the DeLand Garden Club’s upkeep of the downtown planters and the three Rotary clubs organizing the Christmas Parade. We're a community filled with individuals who give back and this is the key factor in our charm. This charm is what has been a catalyst to DeLand’s growth, attracting individuals that want to be a part of and give back to their new community.
Why should someone choose you over your opponent?
Johnson: The biggest reason to vote for me is that I'm not a politician. I don't have aspirations to climb the political ladder, I simply want to protect the rights of the people who live and work in DeLand. I believe the people of DeLand deserve a City Commission composed of individual thinkers who can look logically and critically at the issues facing the city.
Reid: As of this year’s budget, an exit to 472 from Victoria Hills is about to start construction, Beresford is being extended to State Road 44, a state-of-the-art fire station was built and new playing fields are in the works. I’m experienced and continue working to protect DeLand’s charm. Whether it’s connecting with constituents, putting out flags on Main Street, volunteering on service projects or being a resource for organizations supporting our community, I’m the candidate invested in the community. DeLand residents deserve someone who will work on solutions, not one trying to figure out the issues because they have never been involved.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: DeLand City Commission Seat 5 election candidates share priorities