ENDORSEMENTS: Experienced leadership in John Penny or youthful enthusiasm in Chris via for Holly Hill mayor

'Crazy' Eddie Colosimo and his outspokenness could resonate with voters, too

John Penny, candidate for Holly Hill mayor / Headline Surfer®Chris Via of Holly Hill, just 24, is running for mayor / Headline Surfer®'Crazy' Eddie Colosimo is a candidate for Holly Hill mayor / Headline Surfer®Photos for Headline Surfer® / Meet the candidates for mayor of Holly Hill in the Tuesday primary as shown here from left to right: John Penny, Chris Via and Eddie Colosimo.

HOLLY HILL --It's experience in John Penny or youth in Chris Via that appear to be the best choices for voters in choosing their next mayor in today's primary. There's also the option of "Crazy" Eddie Colosimo, who bills himself as the ultimate political outsider.

Holly Hill mayoral candidate John Penny was the 2001 citizen of the year / Headline Surfer®Photo for Headline Surfer® /
John Penny, a commissioner in Holly Hill since 2005, and a candidate for mayor in the current election cycle, was the city's 'Citizen of the Year' back in 2001, as shown in this snapshot with his wife, Claudia, in front of a bus bench.

Penny, 50, married with two children and a veteran Holly Hill commissioner, has the pedigree and experience in municipal governance, while Via, just 24, has the youthful exuberance and enthusiasm that could reverberate throughout this small city that struggles sometimes in the shadow of its neighbor to the both in Ormond Beach or to the south in Daytona Beach.

The third option is mayoral candidate "Crazy" Eddie Colosimo, a Vietnam veteran and biker with the self-described nickname who has been an outspoken critic of municipal politics over the last couple of years. 

All three are decent, hard-working and committed to this city's betterment and with no incumbent in the race with Mayor Roy Johnson term-limited after two four-year terms, it appears Penny, a city commissioner with far greater campaign funding than his opponents combined, would have the edge.

But does Penny have enough of an advantage to win the primary outright with 50 percent of the vote, plus one, needed or else the top two vote-getters would move on to a November runoff?

Penny thinks so and he's spent virtually his entire campaign war chest of $25,780 on winning now, leaving him . with roughly $650.

"Yes, I think I can win it outright," Penny told Headline Surfer®. "That's the plan."

"Yes, I think I can win it outright," Holly Hill mayoral candidate John Penny told Headline Surfer®. "That's the plan."

Penny, regardless of what appears to be a campaign bankrolled by an over-indulgence of insider money from Hyatt Brown's Brown and Brown Insurance, is clearly the most well-rounded candidate among the three.

Via, son of former mayor Roland Via, has put in a strong effort, and could surprise those who think he's too young and inexperienced to lead Holly Hill government policy on part-time basis in a job that pays a mere $12,000 a year.

Colosimo has a lot of community name recognition for his often brash and unfiltered criticism at how things operate at City Hall.

However, Colosimo's banner has often come off as acerbic and self-serving, such as his fight to display multiple flags around his bar property beyond what city codes allowed, asserting patriotic and first-amendment free speech rights that had more to do with keeping a control on clutter.

Colosimo sees Holly Hill's tax base as overly burdensome on residential property owners and the commercial base as woeful and in dire need of development.

For Via, a part-time student at Daytona State College, his biggest issue in the race is his firm belief that the "citizens of Holly Hill are being ignored" by City Hall. 

Via pledged to "provide a voice to the people and be a true representative of their will, and promising, if elected, "not to vote for another tax or water rate increase during my tenure as mayor."

Holly Hill mayoral candidate Chris Via, 24, is the son of former Mayor Roland Via / Headline Surfer®For Holly Hill mayoral candidate Chris Via, a 24-year-old part-time student at Daytona State College and son of former Holly Hill Mayor Rolnd Via, his biggest issue in the race is his firm belief that the "citizens of Holly Hill are being ignored" by City Hall. 

Via pledged to "provide a voice to the people and be a true representative of their will, and promising, if elected, "not to vote for another tax or water rate increase during my tenure as mayor."

The city needs to clean up and maintain vacant properties so that the other houses in the neighborhood will not have their property valuations drop. We also need to do a better job at maintaining our city owned property, ditches, and parks. In addition, we need to reestablish a real recreation program to encourage more families to move into the city.

Penny, whose last name references currency, said his biggest priority, if elected, would be to shore up the administration of city hall with the hiring of a new city manager to replace Jim McCroskey, who was forced out by Penny and others for his perceived unwillingness to being more flexible in dealing with the day-to-day operations of city affairs.

"We need to find someone who is cooperative and can make adjustments as needed," Penny said. 

As for whispers in the community that he's in the back pocket of elite business insiders as demonstrated by his campaign finances, Penny said his connection with Hyatt Brown has more to do with his own family than really about himself. 

Penny said his mother , now retired, worked for Brown and Brown for many years and his younger brother is employed by the insurance giant. Still, Penny accepted $3,000 in campaign contributions from Hyatt Brown and his related companies.

Brown, who serves on the board of International Speedway Corp.  with ICI Homes builder Mori Hosseini and the company's chairwoman, Lesa France Kennedy, is an influential business insider and considered among the most influential of politicians throughout Volusia County. ISC owns Daytona International Speedway and a dozen other tracks nationwide under the sanctioning body of NASCAR, controlled by the France family from its home base in Daytona.

Eddie Colosimo, Holly Hill mayoral candidate / Headline Surfer®Photo for Headline Surfer® /
'Crazy' Eddie Colosimo, current mayoral candidate and a 72-year-old Vietnam veteran and biker, is shown here in this snapshot-image earlier this year from an interview he did with WFTV-Orlando, over a dispute he had with city officials with his displaying of multiple American military flags on his bar property.

Colosimo, sees himself as just the opposite of Penny -- the ultimate outsider fighting city hall. Now he wants to have a direct say in how city hall operates.

"It's not going to be business as usual if I get elected," Colosimo told Headline Surfer® earlier this year, when he was engaged in constant verbal sparring with McCroskey through the media over his large display of American flags on his commercial property. Eventually, he and the city reached a compromise on the number of flags flown and threat of fines were taken off the table.

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.