1st Christmas as mayor of Port Orange a blessing to Don Burnette who credits his faith & family for political success

Photos for Headline Surfer / Don Burnette, mayor of Port Orange, is shown with his wife of 21 years, Anita, and their sons, Matthew, 18, and Patrick, 15.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
HEADLINE SURFER

PORT ORANGE, Fla. -- Don Burnette knows he's blessed to be the face of Port Orange government, which he readily credits to his faith in God and the support of his family in connecting with the citizens of one of Volusia County's most progressive communities where public safety, parks and a sense of place are highly valued.

 "I am encountering my first Christmas as mayor of Port Orange and I'm gratified," Burnette told Headline Surfer the morning of Christmas Eve.

Asked who or what he credits his political success to, Burnette was quick to respond: "I am incredibly grateful to my family this holiday season. They stuck behind me and worked hard during the campaign to get me here. I think of them every day as I serve the good people of Port Orange. Along with our good Lord, my wife, Anita, and my sons, Matthew and Patrick, provide me the strength and guidance to serve every day."

Port Orange Mayor Don Burnette reflects on Christmas / Headline SurferDon Burnette knows he's blessed to be the face of Port Orange government, which he readily credits to his faith in God and the support of his family in connecting with the citizens of one of Volusia County's most progressive communitries where public safety, parks and a sense of place are highly valued. 

"I am encountering my first Christmas as mayor of Port Orange and I'm gratified," Burnette told Headline Surfer the morning of Christmas Eve. Asked who or what he credits his political success to, Burnette was quick to respond:

"I am incredibly grateful to my family this holiday season. They stuck behind me and worked hard during the campaign to get me here. I think of them every day as I serve the good people of Port Orange. Along with our good Lord, my wife, Anita, and my sons, Matthew and Patrick, provide me the strength and guidance to serve every day."

And the guidance of his family and his faith in God are tenets to Burnette, who knows how important leadership and doing the right thing for the citizens are, when politics can rear its ugly head. 

Christmas a respite from emerging scandal at city hall

With the sting of the 2012 water meter scandal, in which meters weren't properly read and costing the municipality at least $2 million in lost revenues, with a cover-up at city hall that led to some key administrative resignations and elected commissioners like Burnette holding the bag, the newly elected mayor has another nefarious escapade emanating from city hall to deal with: The seemingly lack of transparency involving the hiring and firing of an employee who was to manage the Port Orange Government video operations (POG-TV), where the employee allegedly stole electronic equipment and pawned it leading to his arrest earlier this month. 

City Manager Jake Johansson has been slow to release details as to how this could have happened and why it occurred in the first place, considering the terminated employee, 47-year-old Arden Lee Gregory, had an extensive criminal record. Headline Surfer will have more on this emerging scandal and the city manager's attempts to divert attention away from his own actions in it in the coming days. 

"I may have to call for a special meeting to talk about this," Burnette said, adding he wants to learn more about what occurred and why before taking a more draconian stance on handling of the situation when asked f the city manager should be sent backing. Bob Ford said, he too, would like to see discussion among his elected colleagues on the dais before he himself takes a public stance with the city manager. Under provisions of Florida's Government in the Sunshine, elected leaders cannot discuss such issues privately amongst themselves. The next city commission meeting is not until Jan. 10.

Port Orange City Manager Jake Johannson / Headline SurferArden Lee Gregory / Headline SurferWith the sting of the 2012 water meter scandal, in which meters weren't properly read and costing the municipality at least $2 million in lost revenues, with a cover-up at city hall that led to some key administrative resignations and elected commissioners like Burnette holding the bag, the newly elected mayor has another nefarious escapade emanating from city hall to deal with: The seemingly lack of transparency involving the hiring and firing of an employee who was to manage the Port Orange Government video operations (POG-TV), where the employee allegedly stole electronic equipment and pawned it leading to his arrest earlier this month. 

City Manager Jake Johansson  shown here in the larger image,  has been slow to release details as to how this could have happened and why it occurred in the first place, considering the terminated employee, 47-year-old Arden Lee Gregory, shown in the inset, had an extensive criminal record. Headline Surfer will have more on this emerging scandal and the city manager's attempts to divert attention away from his own actions in it in the coming days. 

"I may have to call for a special meeting to talk about this," Burnette said, adding he wants to learn more about what occurred and why before taking a more draconian stance on handling of the situation when asked f the city manager should be sent backing. Bob Ford said, he too, would like to see discussion among his elected colleagues on the dais before he himself takes a public stance with the city manager. Under provisions of Florida's Government in the Sunshine, elected leaders cannot discuss such issues privately amongst themselves. The next city commission meeting is not until Jan. 10.

For now, though, with the holidays, here, Burnette, elected Nov. 8, said Christmas gives him the opportunity to reflect on his personal and professional goals and responsibilities, appreciative of the overwhelming support shown him in capturing 58.12 percent of the votes over Ted Noftall, who finished second in the primary. A third candidate, Lance Green, finished third and out of the running in the three-way primary back in August. Green is the son of Allen Green, Burnette's predecessor as mayor, who was barred by term limits from running again.

Headline Surfer video by Serafina Frederick / Don Burnette shines in the Headline Surfer Public Candidate debate on July 25, at the Lakeside Community Center in Port Orange, along with fellow candidates Ted Noftall and Lance Green in advance of the Aug. 24 primary for mayor.

Burnette made it clear in the campaign, including at a candidate debate, that he would ensure a council led by him would be transparent and put the citizens first.

"We have a great city with tremendous hope and promise," Burnette said in reflecting on Christmas and the people who have put their trust in him to lead as mayor. "This is because of the good will of the people who live here who do great things for their community. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet in Daytona Beach, Florida, via HeadlineSurfer.com. Specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with dozens of journalism-industry awards.

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