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{{tncms-inline alignment=”right” content=”&lt;p&gt;In Deltona, as in other cities using the city-manager form of government, the mayor is a ceremonial figurehead, with no executive or administrative power. The mayor&amp;rsquo;s role includes presiding over meetings of the City Commission, signing documents, and representing the city at public events within and outside Deltona. &lt;br /&gt;Along with the other six members of the City Commission, the mayor has a vote on city policies and ordinances equal to that of any commissioner elected from any one of six districts.&lt;/p&gt;” id=”bf16d3a0-3e05-44e3-947d-ef381dcb6949″ style-type=”info” title=”What is the mayor’s job?” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

With five city races in play and 10 candidates, only one thing is certain in Deltona’s election: The biggest city in Volusia County will have a new mayor.

A political newcomer, Santiago Avila Jr., is challenging Vice Mayor Heidi Herzberg for the top elected office in Deltona, as outgoing Mayor John Masiarczyk prepares to exit.

Masiarczyk was barred from running for another term because term limits in the city’s charter forbid the mayor and city commissioners from serving more than two consecutive terms.

Herzberg is in the same boat. She’s ending her second term as the city commissioner representing Deltona’s District 3.

Herzberg is capitalizing on her eight years on the City Commission as valuable experience in her campaign to become Deltona’s first female mayor and to lead the sprawling city into its future.

The Florida League of Cities has recognized Herzberg as a “Home Rule Hero,” meaning she leads in advocating for more local control and autonomy.

The award comes as the Florida Legislature debates measures that would restrict the authority of local governments in such matters as taxation and business regulation — including medical marijuana.

Avila, by contrast, is an outsider who has become a vocal critic of Deltona’s status quo, including City Manager Jane Shang, water and sewage rates, and a perceived refusal by elected leaders now in office to listen to residents’ concerns.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”right” content=”&lt;p&gt;Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk is term-limited now, but he could conceivably sit out the next four years and run again in 2022 for the title that has become a part of his name.&lt;br /&gt;Despite his pending absence from City Hall, Masiarczyk will not likely fade away. His name and influence will loom large as Deltona charts a new course. &lt;br /&gt;Masiarczyk, after all, was Deltona&amp;rsquo;s first mayor, serving a total of 10 years between 1995 and 2005, and then returning to the position in 2010. He has been mayor for 18 of the 23 years Deltona has been incorporated as a city.&amp;nbsp; Masiarczyk will be remembered as one of those who spearheaded Deltona&amp;rsquo;s effort to become a city. &lt;br /&gt;Deltona also has John Masiarczyk Drive, the street leading from Providence Boulevard to City Hall and to Daytona State College&amp;rsquo;s Deltona campus.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;” id=”66dcbe5a-ebd6-4813-a2fe-116497e3f15c” style-type=”info” title=”What about Mayor Masiarczyk?” type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

Avila gained enough traction with the city’s voters to advance from the Aug. 28 primary to the general election. In the primary, Avila got 4,843 votes, while Herzberg got 6,486. A third candidate, Troy Shimkus, was bumped from the race when he got only 1,936 votes.

Whoever wins the historic election takes office Monday, Nov. 12.

Read our interviews with the two candidates on the next page!


HEIDI HERZBERG

Q: What is the single most important issue in this race?

A: The future of Deltona. With five commission seats up this year, I believe that the city is at a critical crossroads. We have the opportunity to make the city sustainable for the next 50 years.

We have to address the issues of crime and blight, and they are related. If we don’t continue to move forward, then we will only have a city of low property values.

We could do so many great things with the right leadership.

Q: What two or three other major issues are involved in this campaign?

A: The first issue is economic development and commercial growth.

Also, the incorrect position that the city is going to force sewer on customers [who are now using septic tanks for waste disposal]. It’s not going to happen. I still get asked, “Are you going to force us onto a sewer?” We won’t. That’s a state issue. We don’t have the money.

We have to have jobs that provide a living wage. My goal is to create jobs that allow our residents to stay here.

People say they want restaurants and retail stores, but those jobs do not pay enough, such as medical or light manufacturing.

Q: Why do you believe you are the better candidate?

A: I have experience. I have been on the commission for eight years, and I understand that government moves slowly. I also understand you need to build consensus in order to get things done.

I know the strengths and weaknesses of the city. With the relationships that I have built, relationships with other governments, with the business community, with the nonprofits, I believe that will really help us to move the city forward.

Q: What do you see as your role as mayor?

A: I think the role of mayor is a multifaceted role. You are a commissioner with one vote that is equal to that of other commissioners. As mayor, you have the opportunity to be an advocate and an ambassador for your city.

I would run the meetings in a different manner, a more citizen-friendly manner than in the past.

Q: Why is this election important?

A: You have a majority of the commission seats up, and it will determine whether we move forward, or if we retract and tread water, as we have in the past. I don’t want to go back to that. That way you accomplish nothing but what is absolutely necessary, and you never give yourself the opportunity to move forward.

Q: If elected, you take an oath to support the U.S. and Florida constitutions, as well as the city charter. Have you read the U.S. and Florida constitutions lately?

A: I continually refer to the Florida Constitution, because you make decisions based on it. The U.S. Constitution — I was asked that question the other night. I looked at the amendments.

Q: How do you perceive Deltona, and how do you believe other people perceive Deltona?

A: I perceive Deltona as a residential community with a diversity that is amazing. I’ve always felt that way since I moved here in 1983. You could see senior citizens, single people, families and different ethnic groups. We do diversity better than anyone else.

Other people perceive Deltona as bigger than it is. They’re surprised by the size of our population.

They also perceive us as not having much commercial. [Before they actually see Deltona,] I think people perceive us having more infrastructure and commercial development than we have.

Q: If elected, what legacy or lasting contribution do you see yourself leaving for Deltona?

A: I’ve always tried to be a voice for people and animals that don’t have a voice for themselves. I care deeply about this community and its residents. I hope my lasting contribution is giving a voice to those who don’t have one.

A lasting contribution is that … I tried to make Deltona a better place.

The city has good people here, and they deserve a quality of life and a helping hand when they need it.


SANTIAGO AVILA JR.

Q: What is the single most important issue in this race?

A: I think it splits into three different things. I think putting the residents first, which hasn’t been done in a while, is important.

Making sure that we put this “No to forced sewer” issue to rest is another.

We need to do something about reducing our debt. We’re at about $190 million in debt.

Q: What two or three other major issues are involved in this campaign?

A: The city manager [Jane Shang] is one. The retaliation against residents and the residents’ complaints and concerns.

The people are concerned about The Center [at Deltona] and the sustainability of it.

If we don’t like the direction our city is taking, we need to change the people who are making the decisions today.

Q: Why do you believe you are the better candidate?

A: I don’t think I am a better candidate. I don’t like to say that I am better than anyone else.

I just think I am in touch with the residents. She [Heidi Herzberg] is out of touch.

I feel that I listen to the residents and pay attention to them.

Q: What do you see as your role as mayor?

A: The mayor has a role of leadership. As leaders, we should protect the residents’ interests and constitutional rights of the people of Deltona and putting their interests first.

It’s about leadership. If you have the right type of leadership skills, you should be able to have some concerns without having to waver on your principles.

Q: Why is this election important?

A: The city of Deltona is at a crossroads. We are $190 million in debt, if not more.

If we get somebody in there who was there for the last eight years, we are going to have failed politics and failed legislation.

Q: If elected, you take an oath to support the U.S. and Florida constitutions, as well as the city charter. Have you read the U.S. and Florida constitutions lately?

A: Absolutely.

Q: How do you perceive Deltona, and how do you believe other people perceive Deltona?

A: I think other people perceive Deltona as a bedroom community that has stalled.

I perceive Deltona as a place where people can come together and stand against all odds, united. I believe Deltona has the potential to become a city of destiny.

Q: If elected, what legacy or lasting contribution do you see yourself leaving for Deltona?

A: I want to be remembered as somebody of the people and for the people. I know that sounds like a cliche, but I want to be remembered as the people’s mayor.

If Deltona can be a constitutional city and a model for other cities, I’ll die a happy man.

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