Tara D’Errico is challenging incumbent Maritza Avila-Vazquez for the District 3 seat on the seven-member Deltona City Commission.
Deltona voters who live in the district will choose between the two in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, election. The election is nonpartisan, but D’Errico is a Republican, and Avila-Vazquez is a Democrat.
D’Errico, a first-time candidate, said Deltona residents need new city commissioners. She finds the current ones to be disrespectful and divisive. To her, it is one of the biggest problems Deltona faces and a priority of her campaign.
“We can’t move forward until that stops,” D’Errico said. “The residents are suffering right now from that.”
Right now, the biggest priority for Avila-Vazquez is addressing problems caused by Hurricane Ian.
“At this moment, my priority is trying to get all these disasters that we are experiencing here in the city of Deltona addressed in a timely manner, and assist, you know, the families in situations with food and clothing or whatever we can get available to them,” Avila-Vazquez said. “I don’t think it’s just my priority, but I think is the whole city’s priority at this moment.”
Avila-Vazquez is pushing for improved infrastructure in District 3.
“It always goes back to infrastructure. District 3 was one of the first areas developed in the city of Deltona when it first opened up, so we don’t have what District 2 has, which is all the infrastructure, the sewer systems. Some of our subdivisions are on sewer, but I would say the majority of our houses are older. So they’re all a septic system. But that also is not helpful for our environment … ,” Avila-Vazquez said.
D’Errico wants infrastructure-related problems to be addressed, too.
“We just suffered some major issues here in Deltona. And yes, some of that was storm-related, but some of that is situational-related, as well. So that needs to be a major priority for our city and it needs to be solved for,” D’Errico said.
D’Errico wants to foster trust between the commission and citizens by creating more transparency.
“Whether it’s intentional or not, the city’s lack of transparency gives the perception something is being hidden. I don’t know that I agree with that, but it’s the perception that the residents are telling me, that this is what they feel. And if you hope to start regaining back residents’ trust and involvement, this needs to change,” D’Errico said.
Avila-Vazquez said Deltona city government has been as transparent as possible.
“I don’t know how much more transparent we can be,” Avila-Vazquez said. “I have had town hall meetings. I mean, there’s nothing else that I can possibly think of to make it more transparent.”
She said she doesn’t know how many such meetings D’Errico has attended.
“I’ve never seen her in any of my meetings. So I mean, I just met her when she, you know, came out to run for office. But transparency has always been there for my District 3,” Avila-Vasquez said.
The candidates discussed their views of development.
“I think it could definitely be a crisis of over-development. And when I say that, I’m talking specifically residential, because we haven’t had a lot of commercial development here,” D’Errico said.
Avila-Vazquez supports smart growth.
“District 3 has not been touched by new development; it’s mostly areas that have more open land. … As far as the developments that are going on, I believe it’s been done in smart development. We are following the rules according to the state’s, the county, and the city,” Avila-Vazquez told The Beacon. “Development is going to continue whether it be this commission or the next commission. … I am for smart development.”
D’Errico wants more financial responsibility and accountability in Deltona.
“We really need to take a hard look at our budget. And we really need to identify what is essential to running our city and what is nice to have,” D’Errico said. “We need to focus some of that ‘nice to have’ on things that are critical to running our city like stormwater and drainage.”
Avila-Vazquez said the city’s funds are being used effectively and cited recent upgrades to the intersection of Enterprise Road and Deltona Boulevard, along with a crosswalk near the post office, as examples.
“As far as the budget itself, if we cut any funding, and we cut our budget, that means that we have to let go of many staff positions. So are we helping our residents? Or are we multiplying the problems that they’re having?” Avila-Vazquez asked.
Avila-Vazquez said her extensive community service makes her the perfect person to know what residents need.
“I’ve been living here 23 years, and it didn’t take me 15 years, like [D’Errico] says she’s been living here, to get involved in the community. I’ve been involved in the community since 1999,” Avila-Vasquez said. “This is how you get to know your residents. This is how you get to know the needs of your residents, the needs of your community.”
But D’Errico said her lack of political experience is positive.
“Although I may not have the political experience or the endorsements that my opponent does, what that also means is I have no ties, I have no years of alliances, and I have no votes that are beholden to anyone, or anything other than the love and well-being of our city and what is right for our residents,” D’Errico said.
As of her last report on Oct. 14, D’Errico’s campaign war chest had $3,326.41, and she had spent $3,070.38. As of her last report on Oct.7, Avila-Vazquez’s war chest had $5,555.43 in campaign contributions, and she had spent $4,590.36.