By Reggie Williams
I am running for Mayor in the City of DeLand because I believe my experience, knowledge of local government, and understanding of this community will help me to truly make a difference.
My love for this community is undeniable; I have grown up in West Volusia and lived in DeLand since 1971, raising my family in the city I know as home. I worked for Volusia County government for 28.5 years and the State of Florida for 6 years.
Living and working here has allowed me to see firsthand the highs and lows DeLand has experienced. I have seen what I remember as a bustling Downtown when I was young, to an almost business desert that has been revitalized to become an award-winning Main Street.
Fluctuating growth and development patterns, the stress of maintaining adequate parks/recreational space, accompanied by increased demand on our water resources, have impacted the small-town ambiance that so many citizens love. Finding solutions to these and other important local issues don’t come easy.
I frequently hear concerns about excessive growth, clear-cutting large swaths of land for new developments, lack of adequate recreational and park space, and fears of a diminishing water supply. It is imperative that the community’s stakeholders (i.e., citizens, business owners, developers, and employers) begin an open dialogue to brainstorm effective development strategies and guidelines that will help improve our great City of DeLand. Such guidelines might include low-impact development features, designs that minimize the destruction of trees, more trails, bike paths, recreational space and other amenities that help to protect the beauty of our beloved community. Together we can create a strategic method of addressing growth that meets expected outcomes, protects the environment, and promotes citizen satisfaction.
Furthermore, I believe advocacy on behalf of DeLand’s ability to manage growth is a major step to take. The state Legislature has undermined the Florida Home Rule Charter, which provides local governments authority to make decisions based on the local electorate. Advocacy must be a coordinated effort by both City and County governments to get our State Senators and Representatives to stop legislation that undermines local home rule authority.
Advocacy must occur with the State to restore the funding source that was appropriated to meet affordable housing needs. In 1992, the State of Florida passed the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act, which created a dedicated revenue source for affordable housing. In recent years, these monies have been reprogrammed for other uses by the State. Advocacy with the state Legislature to reinstate use of these funds as originally approved and appropriated, is needed.
To me, it is also important that citizen concerns are not only heard but addressed in a timely fashion. Citizens should feel confident that their local government understands their issue, that it will be addressed, and that a response will be received in a reasonable time frame, whether favorable or not.
There are a multitude of other issues that space does not allow to be mentioned. Because of the complexity of most of them, it is important that collaboration, coordination and communication occur among the City of DeLand, the County of Volusia, and bordering cities. Most of these issues cannot be resolved by the city alone; a unified effort is required.
The tagline on my website says, “Voice of Experience, Vision for Tomorrow.” The preceding comments are based on my years of experience in government and involvement in numerous community organizations. At every level, engaging citizens, staff, and other stakeholders was critical to successful outcomes. As Mayor, I will always promote a culture that is inclusive and seeks the best possible outcomes for you, the citizens of DeLand.
This is the type of leadership I will bring to the City. Leadership that is forward-thinking, with a willingness to engage the full City Commission, other governmental entities, and citizens in a dialogue for the betterment of the whole community.
– Political advertisement paid for and approved by Reggie Williams for Mayor of DeLand