’Twas the week before Christmas, yet much had been stirring all through Deltona City Hall, including a storm of controversy around Deltona City Manager Jane Shang.
In the wake of revelations that Shang had listed Deltona City Hall as her home address on her voter-registration form, some members of the audience at a Dec. 17 Deltona City Commission meeting attacked her and demanded her ouster.
After all was said and done, Shang remains safe at her post.
“Ms. Shang, you’re not above the law,” Kurt Sniffin, a resident who unsuccessfully ran for the District 4 City Commission seat, said. “This new controversy is one that I find appalling.”
The item was not on the agenda of the Dec. 17 meeting, but Mayor Heidi Herzberg raised the issue, asking City Attorney Marsha Segal-George for guidance.
Segal-George told the commission that anyone who gives false information on a voter-registration form “commits a felony,” if the voter-to-be does so “with intention to fool everyone.”
A contrite and subdued Shang appealed for understanding, stressing it “was an oversight on my part, and it was not intentional.” She noted she was “living in a hotel,” when she first came to Deltona in June 2015, and had simply forgotten to call the Volusia County Elections Department later and update her registration record with her subsequent permanent home address.
“I am a human being, somebody that has feelings and makes mistakes,” she said. “I hope you will find it in your heart to see I do make mistakes, and it was not intentional.”
Commissioner Anita Bradford was sensitive to the perception of unequal treatment for those who violate the law, even though the State Attorney’s Office is now reviewing the matter.
“We have to abide by the law,” Bradford said. “We can’t keep turning a blind eye. … [we] weren’t elected to be friends.”
A round of applause followed.
“I recommend we suspend her,” Bradford then said.
“I’m going to second the motion,” freshman Commissioner Loren King said, also drawing applause.
That motion failed on a 5-2 vote, with Bradford and King the only ones voting in favor of the suspension. Disappointed by the commission’s decision not to discipline Shang, detractors put their invective on the record.
“The city manager needs to be held to a higher standard,” Donald Freeman, who ran unsuccessfully to represent District 5, said. “I honestly believe you all don’t care.”
“What you did was wrong,” Pat Gibson told Shang. “Why don’t you do the right thing and quit?”
Former mayoral candidate Santiago Avila Jr. appealed to the commission to act.
“What does Jane have to do for you guys to say, ‘That’s enough’?” he asked. “It’s time for you to put on your big girl and big boy pants and do something right.”
Shang also promised she “will no longer ask the staff” to do personal work, after Bradford mentioned that Shang had directed subordinates to make calls on her behalf to correct her voter record.
Bradford renewed a call for the City Commission to adopt a code of ethics for elected officials and city employees, but her colleagues made no commitment.
Contacted by The Beacon, Volusia County Elections Supervisor Lisa Lewis confirmed Shang “voted in District 1, but she lives in District 3.”
Noting the Elections Department’s records show Shang had voted in the 2016 and 2018 elections, Lewis could not say if voting outside one’s district is a crime.