BY JEFF BROWER
Volusia County voters have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to finally stop the economic and environmental suicide that many have feared could never be changed.
This election year, redistricting and the exit of four County Council members who will not run for re-election, guarantees we will have a new majority. Six of the seven seats are on the ballot in the Aug. 23 primary and Nov. 8 general election. I am the only sitting council member not up for re-election.
You have the opportunity to break the decadeslong stronghold the growth-at-all-costs power brokers have used to control Volusia County politics. Please don’t wait until November; it could be too late. If you want a council that shares your values, you must vote in the Aug. 23 primary.
As in every other Volusia County election, for as many decades as I can remember, there is a slate of candidates hand-picked by the growth-at-all-costs protectors.
You can easily spot them. They will be the candidates who tell you the only way ahead is to vote to increase our sales tax another 1 percent. They will say we can’t run government on the cheap, so the only responsible thing to do is to raise your property taxes again this year.
Voting for this well-financed cabal will guarantee tax increases in an economy facing recession where we are already struggling with record-high gas prices and inflation.
If you insist on stopping the yearly tax increases, the status-quo slate will tell you it’s your responsibility, not theirs, to find the cuts. They will offer the usual scary predictions of disaster. They will swear there is nothing in a $1.1 billion budget that can be eliminated without harming your lifestyle.
In 2020, you elected me in a landslide to do three things: stop overdevelopment and require responsible growth; improve the water quality in our lakes, springs and estuaries; and stop the yearly tax increases required to pay for massive overdevelopment. But, you have seen a County Council majority vote down initiatives that would address each of these concerns.
This year’s primary and general elections put you in the driver’s seat. You have well-educated citizen representatives who have stood up to represent your values on the County Council. They are committed to stopping the destruction you see every day. They will join me in voting for new policies.
The Volusia Values Platform candidates will give you the most productive day ever conducted — on the first day of the new County Council: Jan. 5, 2023.
Impossible? No. It just takes four votes and the right ordinances.
For the first time in Volusia history, there is a strong group of independent leaders tired of their home being converted to just another high-tax concrete jungle. They represent hope for the Volusia Values you hold dear.
Like you, they still want the change hoped for when you elected me. Now I am asking you to give me the votes to get it done.
These are the Volusia Values we will vote for on the very first day:
• Sunset wasteful CRAs that rob us of tax dollars we need for essential services and actually cause the pressure to raise taxes to pay for the increased services they create.
• Offering a charter amendment to ban the use of toilet-to-tap in Volusia County. We must protect our aquifer by changing our development pattern, not by making Volusia known as the county where you drink highly processed sewage effluent.
• By passing an ordinance to roll back zoning and land-use regulations to the pre-2010 standards you thought you could depend on.
• By voting to use our limited tax dollars to improve the roads and infrastructure you struggle with every day. A tax increase to build more roads for more development is a disastrous proposition. We need to change the way we grow and take care of our existing challenges, instead of adding to the endless list of maintenance needs.
The Volusia Values candidates believe it is their responsibility to go through the budget line by line, with county staff, to find savings, cut redundant programs and set priorities that reflect your values.
We will support and promote the Volusia Wildlife Corridor the Florida Legislature voted unanimously to create and fund. These lands contain many of the critical wetlands and watersheds required to keep our waterways clean and teaming with life.
There is a new day ahead where fiscal and environmental responsibility will be the guiding principles of the Volusia County Council. Bringing this about is in your hands. For my personal recommendations in the upcoming primary and general elections, follow me on social media.
Be informed, and vote. It’s powerful. It’s especially powerful this year.
— Brower, of DeLeon Springs, was elected in 2020 as Volusia County chair.