Despite the challenges of a global pandemic – amid a backdrop of social unrest, political polarization, and the rise of radical ideologies that seeks to destroy our system of governance – a national nervous breakdown – thousands of Volusia County voters cast their ballot yesterday and let their voices be heard.
Once again, the system worked – and I want to extend my sincere appreciation to all candidates and voters who participated in this sacred process – that includes our intrepid Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis, her impressive staff, and legion of volunteers who make it all work, maintaining the public trust by ensuring the integrity of our elections.
The bedrock principle of our American democracy – that all power is derived from the consent of the governed – is rooted in the conduct of fair elections – “one citizen, one vote,” the purely American concept of political egalitarianism.
Each vote carries equal weight, and, in theory, an equality of representation through political accountability.
At least it should.
Now, as most you know, I’m a cynical asshole – but I don’t (yet) subscribe to the maxim often attributed to Mark Twain which says, “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”
It does make a difference.
I still believe voting is the most important civic responsibility that citizens of a free and democratic society have – because it separates citizens from subjects and ensures our basic rights under the law – which permits blowhards like me the freedom to vent my frustrations, call out basic unfairness and challenge the close-knit plutocracy that continues to erode and manipulate our democratic system in Volusia County.
Our system both unites us in the common goal of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people – and divides us among party lines and various political philosophies.
Hell, if nothing else, the electoral process secures our right to complain, right?
In my view, if, through apathy, lethargy, or cynicism, you fail to cast a ballot – then you forfeit the right to criticize the very government that demands your hard-earned tax dollars and sets public policy that controls our lives and livelihoods.
Yesterday’s primary sorted the wheat from the chaff – paring down the field – setting the stage for the final contests on election day, and for the most part, I was encouraged by the results.
Several races were decided last night.
In a few key contests, candidates that I supported acquitted themselves well – and I feel all self-congratulatory this morning, because I rarely get it right. . .
For instance, the impressive Danny Robins, easily took the Volusia County Council District 3 seat, with an energetic Matt Metz outright winning the hard-fought Public Defender race, while County Judge Chris Miller was returned to the bench.
In municipal races, my dear friend Bill Hall was reelected Mayor of South Daytona – as was hard-working Mayor Don Burnette in the City of Port Orange.
Unfortunately, in the City of Daytona Beach, the incumbent Monarchical Mayor Derrick “Il Duce” Henry was returned to office after claiming slightly over half of the 12,152 votes cast in that race (from a population of over 70,000. . .)
I felt that Mayor Henry’s challengers, Ken Strickland and Sherrise Boyd, ran principled and committed campaigns which drew a bright light to the myriad issues facing this challenged community – standing firm to their conviction that the people of Daytona Beach deserved better.
They can both be proud of the effort.
So, in my view, the subjects of the Duchy of Daytona Beach have no one to blame for the stagnation and malignant blight that continues to consume the Halifax area’s core tourist strip, Main Street, Mid-Town, Downtown, East ISB, beachside/westside, etc., etc. – while Mayor Henry continues to do as he is told by his wealthy handlers and champions the unchecked sprawl on Boomtown Boulevard and beyond.
Clearly, the vast majority of Daytona Beach residents oppose being forced to drink recycled sewage as their municipal government maxes out its permitted share of our fragile aquifer – even as it facilitates more residential and commercial development on our sensitive wetlands west of I-95 – so why do they continue to bend over and take it?
Repeatedly. Again, and again and again?
Whatever. The 6,090 who took the time to reelect Mayor Henry sealed the majority’s fate. . .
Last evening, we also learned that the grassroots campaign of Jeff “Plan B” Brower is seriously threatening the entrenched status quo as voters in the all-important Volusia County Chair race made it clear that there is some shit we won’t eat – and proved Dishonest Deb Denys isn’t going to sail into the catbird seat on a sea of insider money.
In an incredible showing, Jeff Brower flogged the incumbent darling of the Big Money set – soundly beating her by 4,706 votes in the primary – yet failing to reach the tipping point of 50% plus one that would have carried the day.
Now, the gloves come off.
You can bet your sweet bippy there are some high-level confabs taking place today as the Denys campaign licks its gaping wounds and decides on a no-holds-barred strategy that will simultaneously cloak her abysmal record of political cowardice and kowtowing, and use her sizable war chest to sound advantage.
That is, if Deb’s uber-wealthy sugar daddies in the real estate development industry decide they still want to throw good money after bad in the general election. . .
You can bet they will.
When it comes to ensuring a place at the public trough and buying influence with massive campaign contributions – nobody does it better than the East Volusia Elite who continue to control everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tides on Florida’s Fun Coast.
The stakes just got a whole lot higher.
After all, who else is going to carry the water for speculative developers and the entrenched insiders as their puppets on the dais of power begin to go away, eh?
Despite yesterday’s outstanding results – now is not the time to let our packs hit the ground.
I encourage everyone to keep a close eye on the County Chair race – this one’s important – and given the competing interests in this presidential election year, you can bet the turnout will be far greater than what we saw yesterday.
Please show your personal and financial support for Jeff Brower’s energized campaign to take back Volusia County government and ensure a bright and equitable future for all citizens.
Learn how you can help at www.jeffbrowervcc1.com
The fight continues.