Pat Patterson faces three challengers in his bid for re-election to a second four-year term in the District 1 seat on the Volusia County Council. We introduce you to all four candidates today.
Patterson and Jeff Brower, Barb Girtman and Eddie Molina will be on the ballot in the Tuesday, Aug. 28, primary. If one of the four gets more than 50 percent of the vote that day, the election is over.
If none of the four wins a majority of votes cast in the primary, the top two advance to the General Election Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The Volusia County Council sets policy for the operation of county government, hiring the county manager and county attorney, adopting spending priorities and policies and approving a budget, and making county law and land-development rules.
The Volusia County Council has seven members — two elected at-large by voters across the county, and five elected by voters who live in particular districts.
One at-large seat and three district seats — Districts 1, 3 and 5 — are on the ballot this year.
District 1 includes the cities of DeLand, Orange City, Lake Helen, Pierson and part of DeBary, as well as the unincorporated areas of DeLeon Springs and Northwest Volusia, including Barberville and Seville.
The race is nonpartisan, so all registered voters who live in the district may cast ballots in the Aug. 28 primary.
Warning: If you’re not already registered to vote, you must do so by Monday, July 30, to be eligible to vote Aug. 28.
For more information about registering and voting, call the Elections Office at 386-736-5930 or visit www.volusia.org/elections.
— Barb Shepherd
Jeff Brower said he hopes to be “the voice of the people,” and said he is well-equipped to do so, being a resident of Volusia County since the age of 3.
Brower was raised in Daytona Beach and, in 1982, moved to Deleon Springs; shortly after that, he married his wife, Terri, in 1985.
Brower worked as a member of the county Beach Patrol for nine years. He said it gave him the opportunity to give back to his community while being in an environment he loved.
When he left the Beach Patrol, Brower attended the University of Florida to pursue a degree in agriculture and horticulture, which he has worked in since 1979.
Terri and Jeff Brower have worked hard to instill the values of dedication and honesty in their nine children.
Brower said he and his family are very close, and family members are very active outdoors, as they operate their own organic farm and raise chickens, in addition to running an organic landscaping business that has turned into a full design, construction and maintenance company for landscaping.
Brower said he and his wife have also taught their children to be servants of their local community.
Running for County Council, Brower said, is another way he can be a positive role model for his children.
He said the family has participated in community initiatives, such as being a part of the original group that worked to protect beach access and driving on the beach.
Brower said he wants to run his campaign on honesty and integrity, and he promises his will be a voice for all people, regardless of their economic status.
Brower said one of his priorities will be to connect with the county’s people, so he hopes to attend regular town-hall meetings to ensure he is hearing from all of the citizens, not just those in political positions.
Another area Brower wants to tackle is making sure incoming growth is beneficial to both businesses and residents.
He said he wants to make sure the growth is responsible and also safe for the environment.
Another concern is public safety. Brower wants to improve the safety of residents by ensuring that fire departments, law enforcement and emergency medical services are fully equipped and staffed.
Brower also said he would review the budget and make changes according to what is best for the county and its people.
He also said he wants to put more effort into helping the homeless and those in need.
Brower hopes to bring the days of empty words to an end.
He said he is “tired of politicians and their unfulfilled promises.”
Brower said he is more than qualified for the County Council because of his dedication to the people, his high level of civic engagement, and time spent giving back to his local community.
Barb Girtman said the Volusia County Council “needs a change in the culture, and new priorities.” She said she is the best candidate to bring these changes to the forefront and create a more inclusive county government.
Girtman is a fourth-generation DeLand resident and current multimillion-dollar-league real-estate professional. She currently works with Bee Realty Corp. She also has more than 25 years’ experience in health care.
In her current position, Girtman said she had the opportunity to make close connections with members of the Florida Legislature after she was chosen to represent the West Volusia Association of Realtors in Tallahassee.
Working for Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems, Girtman said, she negotiated more than $50 million in contracts as the company’s managed-care director in the southeastern United States.
She is active in the community, including her involvement on the boards of the Rotary Club of DeLand, The West Volusia Beacon, and Greater Union First Baptist Church Life Center.
She was also elected unopposed in 2014 and 2016 to serve on the West Volusia Hospital Authority Board of Commissioners.
Girtman said she has created strong connections in and for West Volusia through serving in these varied roles, as well as being an appointed member of the City of DeLand’s Economic Development Committee and several strategic-planning committees.
Girtman said she is the best choice to represent District 1 on the Volusia County Council because of this extensive network and her dedication to giving the people a voice in government.
“The people have reached back to me and said they are ready for a new voice, vision and energy,” Girtman said.
She said she’s ready to offer just that.
Girtman has several topics she wants to focus on, including better representation for the west side of Volusia County. She said that the east side receives much more focus and funding, and that needs to be adjusted.
She is also concerned with essential county-government services, such as fire services, law enforcement and emergency medical services. Girtman said she wants to make sure those services are properly staffed and have the resources to be effective.
Girtman also puts emphasis on improving the way the county deals with growth. Growth needs to be responsibly managed and to be a benefit to developers and residents alike. She said she’d like to be part of an overdue re-evaluation of the county’s impact fees, which are one method of assuring growth pays for itself.
The lives of seniors in Volusia County are also a key focus of her campaign, as she wants to help ensure that senior citizens have the accessibility and safety they deserve. Girtman helps care for her elderly mother, and places great importance on giving her mom and other seniors the best quality of life.
Overall, Girtman said, she brings to the table the connections and relationships needed to make change in county government, and she is ready to begin steering Volusia County toward a brighter future.
“My interest is in servant leadership,” Eddie Molina said.
After 20 years in the U.S. military, Molina hopes to transfer his values to a position on the Volusia County Council.
Molina was raised in Orlando from the age of 8, after his family moved to the continental United States from Puerto Rico in 1987. He joined the military right out of high school and shipped out one month after graduation.
During his tenure in the military, Molina held multiple positions, including serving as a personnel officer for NATO. He received many awards, including two Meritorious Service Medals, nine Commendation Medals, nine Achievement Medals, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
Toward the end of his career, Molina and his wife, Jennifer, decided to settle in the DeLand area in 2013. After retirement in 2017, Molina became increasingly more involved in the community.
Since then, he has become an active member of the DeLand Breakfast Rotary and the DeLand and West Volusia Chambers of Commerce, and began coaching youth basketball. He also served with the Volusia County Children and Families Advisory Board.
Molina said he searches for any opportunity to give back to the community and hopes to make an impact, not only on the community itself, but on his own children.
“I have two kids that I want to be a good role model for, and I get them involved, and to volunteer with me because I think it’s important for them to see that and be a part of that,” Molina said.
Because of his retiree status, Molina said, he not only has more time to spend with his children, but more time to dedicate to the job of representing District 1 on the County Council.
Molina said he is the best fit for the position because of his extensive experience during 15 years writing policy in the military, and his ability to be unbiased in making decisions.
County Council members serve four-year terms.
“Being an officer, we move every two or three years,” Molina said, adding, “I’m used to having a small time frame to get things accomplished.”
His first goal, he said, would be to review the current policies and work to remove any redundancies, to help the government run more efficiently. He then wants to focus on building relationships with the cities and to repair trust among the residents, the cities and county government.
Molina said he enjoys the personal touch and, if elected to the County Council, would be very involved within the community, even more so than he already is. He said he wants to attend city commission meetings around the county to stay abreast of what is going on so he can better help the residents of Volusia County.
Overall, Molina’s vision for Volusia County is to create an environment in which the county and city governments work together to run as smoothly as possible.
He hopes that he can make a difference in the community and that he can translate his years of military experience and values to something he feels will be worthwhile.
DeLand resident Pat Patterson believes his extensive background on the Volusia County Council, coupled with two stints in the Florida Legislature, makes him the best candidate for the District 1 seat.
If he wins the race, Patterson will be term-limited from running again for the seat in four years, although he could run for a different County Council seat. But he said he has no plans to run again at that time.
This is Patterson’s second go-round on the County Council. He served previously from January 1995 until November 1998, when he was elected state representative. He held that post until 2000, was defeated in his re-election bid, then won a seat in the Legislature again in 2002 and served until 2010.
He says that experience gives him an edge over his three challengers.
“I know what I’m doing. I know how to get things done both here and in Tallahassee, where I still have a townhouse. I’m still going up there regularly on behalf of [Volusia] County, and it doesn’t cost the county anything to send me,” Patterson said. “None of [the other candidates] has any legislative experience that I know of … nothing on the local, state or even federal level.”
Patterson is proud of what he has accomplished in his most recent term on the County Council, pointing to a boat ramp and park under construction on Shell Harbor Road near Pierson as one prime example.
“It’s the only county-owned boat ramp and park on Lake George, and keeps people there from having to drive to Astor to launch their boats,” he said. “By the end of the year, we’ll probably hold a dedication ceremony. It’s really beautiful up there.”
Patterson also is proud that, after more than a year of trying to convince other members, the SunRail Commission agreed to talk with the Florida Department of Transportation about possibly lowering Volusia County’s contribution to the commuter-rail system’s maintenance and operating costs if the service doesn’t get extended from DeBary to DeLand.
“We’re not giving up on getting the trains to DeLand, but we don’t want Volusia County taxpayers paying more than they should if the trains don’t come,” he said.
The biggest holdup is getting federal funding to cover the construction cost of the 12-mile extension of SunRail’s tracks to DeLand.
Looking ahead, Patterson said he wants to continue working on getting SunRail extended. Hiring a new county manager also is high on his list of priorities, as is continuing to provide assistance to residents of District 1, acting as their liaison with county government when they need help.
“There’s a lot of that,” Patterson said of the constituent services he provides.
He recounted how one resident complained about a neighbor continually shining a light onto his property at night, keeping him from being able to sleep. Patterson worked with staff and colleagues on the County Council to get a county ordinance changed to make such “light trespassing” illegal.