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At top, from left are Vernon Burton and Cameron Lane. At bottom, from left are Heather Rutledge and Kelly Frasca.

Lake Helen’s peculiar election cycle means that every year in Lake Helen is an election year. In odd-numbered years, Zones 1 and 3, and the mayoral seat, are up for election (in even-numbered years, Zones 2 and 4 are up for election). Zone 3 City Commissioner Rick Basso was re-elected without opposition, leaving Zone 1 and the position of mayor up for grabs.

Incumbent Mayor Daisy Raisler declined to run again for the position after serving two terms, leaving the position open to two former city commissioners, Cameron Lane and Vernon Burton. Lane served from 2008 to 2014, and Burton 2008 to 2020.

Zone 1 incumbent Kelly Frasca has served one term. She faces newcomer Heather Rutledge.

Campaign funds:

LANE: $2,810 Spent = $2,377.47

Lane has contributed the majority of his funding, lending his campaign around $2,000. 

BURTON: $7,662 Spent = $7,242

Burton has had around 40 separate donors to his campaign, mostly in smaller amounts of $50 to $100 a pop. Contributors include members of the Minority Elected Officials, including Volusia County Council Member Barb Girtman and DeLand City Commission Jessica Davis.

RUTLEDGE: $1,150 Spent= $695.59

Rutledge has raised most of her $1,150 from a small handful of Lake Helen residents. 

FRASCA: $828.58

Frasca has spent $828.58 of her own funds, counted in election reports as in-kind donations.

MAYOR’S RACE:

VERNON BURTON

BEACON: Why are you running?

BURTON: A lot of people think that the mayor is an easy position — it’s not an easy job. But one of the things that my grandfather always told me is that easy is never an option, you have to make the best of what you can. And one of the things that I’ve learned is how to be a team builder, and be a team player. I think what our city needs right now is a team that can get the job done.

BEACON: What are your thoughts on growth in Lake Helen?

BURTON: I’d like to see some affordable housing —  houses that would allow for young families that are starting out that don’t need 2,400 square feet. We also may consider some annexation properties on the outskirts of Lake Helen that will allow us to put some sort of industrial businesses out there without interrupting our inner city. I’d like to see us increase our police training. We don’t have code-enforcement officers that will allow us to be able to effectively go to court.

BEACON: What are the issues that are most important to you?

BURTON: As I feel like there’s a part of our community that sometimes seems to be overlooked. And I like to see them get the amount of respect that they’re due. One thing in particular is Suber Memorial Cemetery, which is on the other side of Interstate 4. All the African Americans who were families that were in the city years and years and years ago —  when they split the cemetery off from the city’s contiguous landmass. That should be a part of our city.

Another one of the things I would consider doing would be to have a standardized election.  Currently, every single year we have an election cycle. Not only will you save money on elections, but every election cycle, there’s always some hot-button point that people want to make an issue out of. This is the first time in the last 12 years that the hot button issue wasn’t the city administrator, because we just got a new one. 

BEACON: Why should people vote for you and not your opponent?

BURTON: One of the things that separates Cameron and I — Cameron served six years, and I served 12. I sat second chair with three mayors. I’ve hired three of the city administrators. I’ve sat next to and have dealt with different commissioners.

I’ve seen everything firsthand. I’ve been through most every city emergency that has taken place in the last 12 years from everything from fires to hurricanes. 

I bring all that knowledge to the table. 

CAMERON LANE

BEACON: Why are you running?

LANE: I have the experience and skills Lake Helen needs right now to rebuild her good faith and credit in the hearts of her citizens. For many years in our family-owned and -operated businesses, I managed multimillion-dollar budgets and large staffs. I always did my best to honor God and my family and those we served. I will serve the citizens of Lake Helen with equal honor and effort. America was built through citizen service and sacrifice; let’s keep it going.

BEACON: What are your thoughts on growth in Lake Helen?

LANE: I feel the City Commission has a responsibility to defend the character of Lake Helen, particularly against the current trends toward high-density housing development. We do have a remarkable small-business community in the city that we need to continue to foster and support, especially in these difficult times. My opponent has said that “Lake Helen is shovel-ready,” and his largest contributor is indeed a developer.

BEACON: What are the issues that are most important to you?

LANE: Restoring confidence in the city and her good name and reputation through transparency and hard work. Maintaining the city’s character by defending against high-density housing development.

Continuing efforts in many areas like eco-friendly and vigorous lake management and work toward restoring and repurposing municipal buildings, including our historic City Hall, the Creative Arts Cafe, and the shuffleboard building. We also have several exciting things in development, including trail improvements and expansion and park improvement and expansion.

BEACON: Why should people vote for you and not your opponent?

LANE: My opponent and I have both served Lake Helen for many years on the commission and various boards. As I mentioned before, my opponent has said that “Lake Helen is shovel-ready.” As for me, I am a fourth-generation member of this community, and I love and care for it deeply. I don’t want to see it transformed or developed for the sake of impact fees or campaign contributors. We don’t need to chase the easy money; we’re doing just fine. I have confidence, born of experience in business and community leadership, that we will see Lake Helen not just survive but thrive.

ZONE 1

KELLY FRASCA

BEACON: What are some highlights from your first term in government?

FRASCA: The following is a list of some accomplishments I have initiated in my first term:

  •   The revision of Article 24 “Animal Ordinance”
  •   The creation of “Bella’s Dangerous Dog Registry”
  •   Addressing our feral cat population by adding the Lake Helen TNR program.
  •   Adding a NO KILL shelter to our Animal Control resources.
  •   Introduced lake consultant to the city for our lake’s preservation.

I have approved the following projects:

  •   Triple S Subdivision Utility improvements
  •   Virginia Drive Road and water-main improvements project
  •   Purchasing additional land to increase Melissa Park
  •   New pavilion at Macy Park
  •   New fitness trail and equipment at the Equestrian Center
  •   The partnership with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, lake consultant and the city to produce a maintenance schedule for our lake’s health.

BEACON: What are your thoughts on growth in Lake Helen?

FRASCA: I believe in smart growth, while maintaining our historical heritage with the mix of the residential and rural atmosphere. For example, using a land-use pattern reminiscent of America’s small towns of the past, while providing economic strength. For instance, protecting our neighborhoods, natural resources, and maintaining open space, in addition to residential annexation and acquisition of environmental lands, all of which can be found in our 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

BEACON: What are the differences between you and your opponent?

FRASCA: I have obtained institutional knowledge, not only in my first term but also over the past eight years. During those eight years, I remained involved with the city by participating during meetings and researching information that came before the city so I would be prepared to serve our citizens efficiently.

Additionally, I served on city boards such as the Historic Preservation Board and Parks and Recreation Board, and was later hired as the city’s event coordinator, where I produced a budget to present to the commission. I continue to remain engaged through the community by volunteering with our local organizations.

BEACON: What are the issues that are most important to you?

FRASCA:

  •   Preserving the quality of life for our citizens. while maintaining the small-town charm we call home
  •   Upholding a maintenance schedule for our lakes while fostering a healthy relationship between the city, the lake consultant and FWC
  •   Addressing our citizens’ concerns on water quality
  •   Updating our policies, procedures and ordinances
  •   Infrastructure and park improvement projects.

HEATHER RUTLEDGE

BEACON: Why are you running?

RUTLEDGE: I have always been interested in our local politics. This is where I believe we, the community, feel the most impact of government decisions. I want to see the community’s perspective fully represented on our dais.

I also have a passion to serve my community. I wish to see our history preserved and to leave a better city to the next generation, especially as a mother. Being commissioner would be a culmination of my passions and an honor to represent my neighbors.

BEACON: What are your thoughts on growth in Lake Helen?

RUTLEDGE: I believe that growth is inevitable, especially in such a charming and desirable location such as Lake Helen. My objective would be to support smart growth, which, through research, has shown to benefit small cities like ours.

Zoning plays a large role in how our city can develop, but working within the parameters set, re-evaluating when the needs of the city change, and utilizing our already-established assets could be a way to encourage smart growth here in Lake Helen.

BEACON: What are the issues that are most important to you?

RUTLEDGE: It is challenging to list all the issues of importance, but the most encompassing topics I believe, are listed below:

1) Preservation of the culture, traditions, and history that make Lake Helen unique. This includes mindful growth of our city.

2) Support lake restoration and plans for the parks and historic buildings in our community.

3) Unity of the dais and the community through inclusion of all ideas and unbiased leadership capable of self-reflection.

BEACON: Why should people vote for you and not your opponent?

RUTLEDGE: I believe I possess a multitude of skills that would make me a great asset to our city. I am a leader who is capable of independent and critical thinking. I weigh decisions based on the good of many and not for personal gain. Being in management for nearly 10 years, I have made many tough decisions. Through this leadership, I have demonstrated I am capable of unbiased leadership and self-reflection.

I believe in being a lifelong student, which extends outside of a traditional classroom. I thoroughly research topics at hand to make decisions logically and not emotionally. I also believe that my background in accounting will bring a valuable dynamic to the commission that can positively impact our city.

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