First year of public service comes to close as face of Volusia County government

Volusia County Chair and Bronze Star Medal of Valor recipient Jason Davis / Headline SurferBy Jason Davis
Volusia County Chair
Blog: Chairman's Corner
Exclusively for Headline Surfer®
 

DAYTONA BEACH -- Just about a year-and-a-half ago, I was the voice of Sunday Morning with the Boston Pops, a local radio show with quite a listening base. Life was good; I made my radio show, produced syndicated shows for our station, and even produced a few local shows.

Then my life changed.

One day while I was working at the station, and we were doing a St. Patrick's Day tribute from "all" the elected officials in the county, I was confronted by them and they said to me that we needed some real leadership in the county government. My response was very simple in that if they found that person, I would not only vote for them, but I would work with them to get them there.

Little did I know, a few days later, a friend of mine heard me relate that story and he laughed, saying, "Let me translate that for you -- put your name on the ballot."

It took me two weeks to think it over, and well, I did, so now here I am, The Volusia County Chair, elected in November 2012. I have learned a lot since I was elected.

One item is where the coffee maker and the bathrooms are. That is one of the most asked questions of me while I am in the County Administration Building. You see, most citizens still have no Idea what I look like, and they think I am an employee. I get to have a little fun at that, because then I ask them how they think our county government is doing. I get some very candid responses.

I have also been requested to do things, but there are a few issues with that though. I do not have power supreme.

There are laws I have to follow, rules I must adhere to, and my first amendment rights are gone. Except for writing editorials, I really cannot speak out about a subject or issue. One thing that I will tell you that drives me crazy is the lack of speed speed to which we get anything done. This is something that I have had to get used to.

When I was in the professional branch of the military ( U.S. Army), I would give an order and it was done. Our decisions were life and death, and we had to accomplish the mission. Here not so much.

The endless process

Items come up in council member discussions, then two weeks later it is on the agenda for discussion, then someone makes a motion for a workshop in three weeks, then two weeks later, it is brought back to the council as an action item for discussion and debate, then a motion, then two weeks later there is final resolution on that item. Sometime after that, the actions will be made and the issue is resolved.

Nine weeks-plus to resolve something or not is ridiculous, in my opinion, but this is the process we have. Then we add in the Florida Sunshine Laws, which are the toughest in the country, and I cannot even call a fellow council member to talk about an issue or have anyone do that on my behalf, which just slows the process down even more.

To be honest, I am amazed we get anything done. Now we add in the political agendas of the council members and the county government comes to a screeching halt. An example of that is that we were going to do a strategic plan for the council, but this Waverly issue got in the way.

To be honest, I am amazed we get anything done. Now we add in the political agendas of the council members and the county government comes to a screeching halt. An example of that is that we were going to do a strategic plan for the council, but this Waverly issue got in the way.

Now we have to wait for that to come to a completion, 90 days or more. Of course, we are about to start the campaigns for the 2014 election, and this will slow everything down more, plus we have council members running against each other, that should really make things interesting.

First-year accomplishments

So, in my first year, I have accomplished some things. Wounded Warriors Project is moving along, Veterans issues are being dealt with quicker, unemployment is dropping and the housing market is starting to rebound. We are down to the third highest taxed county in the state (dropping from number two). Locally, revenue is being generated by the one billion dollars invested in our community by Daytona Speedway Corporation; Hard Rock Hotel is beginning to build in our beach area, as are a few more notable hotels that are coming in the future (to be disclosed later).

Add in the fact that tourism is up slightly, things are looking better, but we have a long ways to go before we near the boom we had less than a decade ago. One of the focuses we had on the campaign trail was to create jobs. I remain dedicated to that mission.

I am doing everything within my power to encourage new businesses to start up and expand, and I am courting businesses from outside of our county to come here and relocate.

The biggest problem we have is that the County Government gets in the way some times, and that slows everything down. We have to get out of the way, and just let private businesses do what they do best, create jobs, and build our economy. If there were more good paying jobs in Volusia County, the economy would grow, and there would be a trickle-up effect.

The mighty Redwoods do not grow from the top down, they have a great root system that supports this magnificent tree, and that is how an economy should work. Build up the roots of it first; small businesses and entrepreneurs, and the result will be a healthy and vibrant economy. Self sustaining and successful for years to come. Just like the Redwoods.

There is so much more to discuss with you all, but I feel that I am running out of space, so until next time, everyone have a Merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Jason Davis Picture

Short Bio

County Chair Jason Davis writes his occasional column exclusively for Headline Surfer, the Award-Winning 24/7 Internet News Outlet Serving Greater Daytona Beach via HeadlineSurfer.com.