I haven’t always been kind to District 4 Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post.
But, deep down, I always respected her drive and tenacity.
My self-created role as a dilettante polemicist, if I have one at all, is to ‘calls them like I sees them’ – providing one man’s unvarnished view of the machinations of local government through the lens of someone who has been behind the velvet curtain – the despised magician who breaks ranks and exposes the sleight-of-hand those we elect and appoint to represent our interests would rather remain a mystery to We, The Little People, who are expected to pay the bills and suffer in silence.
To her credit, Councilwoman Post understood better than most that harsh constituent criticism comes with the territory, and that political accountability is vitally important to the integrity of the process.
On Friday evening, we learned the disappointing news that Councilwoman Post is withdrawing her candidacy for the Volusia County At-Large seat and has announced she will not be seeking elective office in November.
Fortunately, Ms. Post will complete her current term in office which ends in December.
In her heartfelt announcement on Facebook, Councilwoman Post thanked her legions of supporters – speaking emotionally about her admiration for veterans and public safety professionals – those community heroes she has tirelessly advocated for from the dais and in the bureaucratic trenches since taking office.
In keeping with her reputation for speaking truth to power, Ms. Post also gave a nod to her “adversaries” who, through both iterations of the Volusia County Council on which she served, made it clear that her valiant willingness to break ranks – violate the ancient Code of Omerta – and engage with constituents, think independently, and move beyond the tired status quo was unacceptable.
In turn, her craven “colleagues” reacted to everything Ms. Post said or did with faux outrage, openly marginalizing and disparaging her every initiative with personal attacks, eye-rolling histrionics, and an overweening sense of officious superiority that only those preening assholes – past and present – could muster.
For instance, in 2019, when Post asked for a letter supporting her bid for the Florida Association of Counties Second Vice President slot – her request was arrogantly denied by then County Chair, Ed Kelley, who said, “…he doesn’t trust Post and would never support her representing the county on a state board because her views on issues too often don’t align with the council majority.”
Then, following the election of Council members Ben Johnson and Barbara Girtman, Chairman Kelley reconsidered and issued a glowing letter of recommendation to the Florida Association of Counties, which stated, in part, “Volusia County enthusiastically supports County Council Member Heather Post’s candidacy for a Vice President position with the Florida Association of Counties (FAC).”
In turn, Ms. Post qualified to run for the leadership role against Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine during the organization’s annual conference. It would be the first time in the 90-year history of FAC that a sitting Volusia County representative had been a candidate for the Executive Board.
When the time came to make good on his promise to support Post’s run – in perhaps the most shameful display of quisling, meanspirited political backstabbing on record – Old Ed and Councilwoman Billie Wheeler campaigned against Ms. Post in a bait-and-switch shim-sham that violated the public trust and exposed the depth to which the Old Guard would stoop to embarrass and humiliate Ms. Post.
She deserved better. We deserved better.
It was ugly and spoke to everything wrong with this entrenched power structure that has controlled everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tides here for far too long.
“…I am so grateful to my adversaries and those who have opposed me, sabotaging meetings, being deeply horrible people to gain favor elsewhere, spreading lies, encouraging stalkers, and worst, purposefully making decisions detrimental to the citizens and the future of Volusia County just to be able to “go against” what I advocate for. I have learned so much from them and it is through these battles that my positions, beliefs and tenacity have been re-affirmed and are now stronger than ever. I have worked tenaciously to stand up for so many in the community and within the county administration whose voices are sadly ignored and I will continue to do so.”
In another shameful example, last week, Ms. Post advocated for the Honor our PACT Act – federal legislation which would provide enhanced medical benefits to military veterans exposed to toxic contaminants and environmental hazards while in service to our nation.
Inexplicably, only Chairman Jeff Brower and Councilwoman Barb Girtman agreed to cosign the letter of support endorsing what should be a non-partisan issue (yeah, right), with council members Ben Johnson, Danny Robins, Billie Wheeler, and The Very Reverend “Dr.” Fred Lowry refusing to be included.
My God. . .
Look, nothing has come easy for Ms. Post.
Following a brutal 2016 campaign marked by horrific mudslinging, character assassination, and combined campaign contributions totaling over $390,000 – to that point, the most ever spent on a Volusia County Council race – it became apparent that Volusia’s Old Guard – those stalwarts of the stagnant status quo – did not like Post’s penchant for independent thought and hands-on representation of those who elected her.
During her first campaign, Ms. Post committed the unforgivable sin of getting crossways with King of Kings J. Hyatt Brown when she labeled a Political Action Committee – “Committee for a Strong Volusia” (sorry, I just upchucked in my mouth a little) – to which His Royal Highness had contributed some $50,000 as misogynistic and a mechanism of the “good ‘ol boy” system that is alive and well here on the Fun Coast.
Her bread never landed jelly-side-up again. . .
She became a political punching bag – the target of powerful political insiders and their elected chattel on the dais who tried desperately to pound a square peg into the round hole of conformity – and a lightning rod for time-wasting controversy.
Look, Ms. Post is far from perfect (who is?) – given to the showboating and shameless self-promotion that has become an essential quality of politicians everywhere – and her unwillingness to speak with the working press added an air of defensiveness many found troublesome.
She could be a polarizing force – and you will rarely speak to anyone familiar with Volusia County politics who have ambivalent feelings about her service.
However, with time and experience, Ms. Post grew into her own, always championing the cause of those who live and eke out a living in the artificial economy of Volusia County – fighting against overwhelming opposition to become an important, influential, and incredibly popular voice for her constituents.
I do not know how, when, where, or if Ms. Post will serve in the future – but those with her fire in the belly – the personal and political courage to change things for the better, despite withering pushback, are a rare breed – and I hope she continues her political career whenever the time is right.
In a current field marked by bought-and-paid for lackeys, political neophytes, retread perennial politicians, and a precious few candidates committed to the grassroots activism, service-above-self, and substantive change that will return a government of the people that Ms. Post and Chairman Jeff Brower represent – things just got a lot gloomier (if that’s possible) in Volusia County politics.
Despite her withdrawal from the arena, I remain enamored with the ideal Ms. Post represents to many – an independent voice who seeks the truth without fear or favor, serves in the public interest, stands up to political bullies, embraces the concept of fairness, and fights mightily to give taxpayers a true voice in their government – someone who embodied our collective hope for something resembling a representative democracy in Volusia County.
Thank you for your service, Ms. Post.
You will be missed.