volusia parents for freedom shirts
FOR SALE — Pictured are two examples of t-shirts that are sold on the Volusia Parents for Freedom website. Others criticize other current members of the Volusia County School Board, like Carl Persis.

DeLandite Matthew Johnson, the head of an inactive conservative political committee, filed June 14 to run for DeLand City Commission Seat 5. Johnson joins a race that also includes incumbent Kevin Reid and challenger Carlos Navarro.

Johnson, a registered Libertarian and political newcomer in DeLand, created the political organization Volusia Parents for Freedom in 2021, amid frustration with a teacher who allegedly compelled his elementary-school student to wear a mask. 

The organization used its Facebook page to criticize various Volusia County School Board members who supported a mask mandate in schools, as well as criticizing former Superintendent Scott Fritz.

The organization also sold T-shirts on its now-deleted website, including one that read, “Ruben Colon [sic] has to go,” and another with the slogan, “I no longer identify as unvaccinated, I identify as pureblood.”

Matthew Johnson

Colón is the incumbent School Board member in District 5, which represents Southwest Volusia, including Deltona. The School Board Member found himself in hot water last year when he, along with others on the School Board, including Carl Persis, voted in favor of a mask mandate in schools.

Colón faces a challenge in the upcoming election from Fred Lowry, who currently represents Southwest Volusia on the Volusia County Council.  Lowry has endorsed various conspiracy theories, including claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, and that “Hollywood elites” use the blood of children to produce life-prolonging drugs.

Volusia Parents for Freedom raised $675 since its creation in September 2021, but the organization hasn’t donated any of that to a political candidate or cause. Johnson said he intends to disband the organization and donate the money to a local nonprofit.

As of June 15, Johnson has two opponents: incumbent Reid, a registered Republican, and radio host and actor Carlos Navarro, a registered Democrat. The City Commission races are nonpartisan.

Reid has contributed $1,000 of his own money toward his re-election campaign, and, as of June 15, neither Navarro nor Johnson had filed campaign-finance reports. The next time reports are due for filing is Friday, June 17.



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