Last week I attended a meeting with Greg Gimbert to discuss his potential candidacy for Volusia County Council Chairman.
For just over an hour I listened intently as Greg spoke extemporaneously on the serious issues facing Volusia County. To say I was impressed by what I heard is an understatement.
He spoke in clear, concise and passionate terms as he described the corrosive impact of big-money on the local political process, the importance of restoring character, transparency and integrity in government, and his overwhelming desire to leave Volusia County a better place for his young son.
More important, he not only explained the problems in clear, understandable terms – he offered constructive solutions as well.
That’s the mark of a leader.
Anyone can complain – I’m a prime example of that. But it takes a special courage to actually step into the arena and fight for that which is fair and just; to spend oneself in a worthwhile struggle to protect and preserve the rights of others.
Unfortunately, the natural instinct to see wrongs and work to set them right is an increasingly rare personal trait today, and almost non-existent in the political realm.
Greg Gimbert exemplifies all these things – in his words, and his actions.
He is founder and chairman of Let Volusia Vote, a political action committee and advocacy organization committed to the principle that the people should have a fundamental right to self-determination over issues related to the beach, our most precious natural resource.
In that role, Greg Gimbert led a small group of committed individuals who organized – and galvanized – a coalition of over 22,000 Volusia County residents who signed petitions and stood together around a common goal of placing a charter amendment on the 2016 ballot to help ensure beach access for everyone.
This grassroots effort was met with fierce opposition by the entrenched power structure in Volusia County who went to unprecedented lengths – including the nuclear option of filing a lawsuit against their own constituents – to defeat the measure.
Trust me, when faced with the full might, treasure and force of government – and the potentially devastating implications of defending the idea that the people’s right to petition their elected officials for redress of grievances is inviolate under the United States Constitution – most would buckle to political power and abandon the cause.
Not Greg Gimbert.
When the chips were down, he worked tirelessly with Let Volusia Vote’s legal counsel to defend the rights of the people – your rights – all the way to the 5th District Court of Appeals.
Ladies and gentlemen, Greg Gimbert does not quit. He is a proven servant-leader who does not kowtow to an embedded political elite, nor compromise his personal and professional ethics for political expediency.
In my view, Greg’s strong, collaborative leadership on issues as diverse as beach access, environmental advocacy (as exemplified by his Vice Chairmanship of the Volusia Soil and Water Conservation District), the appropriate public use of the Tiger Bay State Forest, and his work to prohibit the detrimental impact of fracking in Volusia County, is a testament to his ability to build consensus among different points-of-view.
In short, Greg’s civic-minded personal involvement in the important issues facing all of us demonstrate his deep sense of community pride and personal commitment to the highest ideals of public service. I like that in my elected representatives.
In my view, there are people who have the ability to define their times, rather than be defined by them. In an era marked by the open corruption of once trusted institutions, where political access and influence are sold to the highest bidder and a wealthy few are granted control of the lives and livelihoods of the governed, Greg has demonstrated the strength of courage and perseverance to stand alone, putting service above his own self-interests.
Greg Gimbert is a man for this time, for this place.
On a personal note, I have always been impressed by Greg’s personal integrity and commitment to his family. He knows that character counts, and his service to the citizens of Volusia County has been marked by ethical conduct, the notion of fairness and a deep concern for his fellow citizens.
It’s why I trust Greg Gimbert’s judgment, and you should to.
I believe the outcome of this election will have historic implications for our way of life.
Let’s take back our government. If not now, when?
Given the importance of this contest, I humbly ask that you give my friend Greg your support, and your precious vote, as we all work together to improve the heart, character and future of Volusia County.