Native son hoping to follow in late father's footsteps as municipal leader
NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- The time has come for an experienced community leader to take the reigns in New Smyrna Beach and right the ship that has run aground, especially in the last couple of years. That leader is none other than Jim Hathaway.
With that said, Headline Surfer® wholly endorses Hathaway for mayor of New Smyrna Beach in the Nov. 4 general elections over City Commissioner and former colleague Jack Grasty.
The taxpayers of the city by the sea have been hit with an increase in taxes for the new fiscal year that began Wednesday, following a tax increase last year as well. This is unacceptable in a city known for its charm that has a large bloc of seniors on fixed incomers and working class families struggling to put food on the table.
Tax increases in two consecutive years in a city known for its charm that has a large bloc of seniors on fixed incomers and working class families struggling to put food on the table is truly unacceptable.
Nobody knows two-term City Commissioner Jack Grasty's voting habits better than Jim Hathaway whose mantra is "the buck has to stop somewhere" because his opponent can't seem to reign in spending.
"I sat next to Jack Grasty for seven years and he's never talked about cutting taxes -- not once," Hathaway told Headline Surfer® on Friday while making his early morning bread deliveries at grocery stores in New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater.
Headline Surfer® photo by Serafina King-Frederick / 2014 New Smyrna Beach mayoral candidates Jack Grasty, at far left, and Jim Hathaway, at far right are shown on the dais in 2012, with lame-duck Mayor Adam Barringer.
Nobody knows two-term City Commissioner Jack Grasty's voting habits better than former 18-year City Commissioner Jim Hathaway, whose mantra is "the buck has to stop somewhere" because his opponent can't seem to reign in spending.
"I sat next to Jack Grasty for seven years and he's never talked about cutting taxes -- not once," Hathaway told Headline Surfer® on Friday while making his early morning Pepperidge Farm bread deliveries at grocery stores in New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater.
In addition to cutting taxes, Hathaway believes the city has to set priorities on capital projects, such as badly-needed storm-water drainage improvements to deal with the recent massive flooding due to heavy rainfall over several days.
We have a legitimate threat to public safety with dangerous flooding in parts of our city," Hathaway noted. Then he asked rhetorically, "Our best answer is we are pushing for grant money? That is unacceptable."
Hathaway has a common-sense solution.
"Let's scrap the $5 million for the Brannon Center and fix the flooding issues and rebuild the football stadium," he said. "Vote for me for mayor and I will bring city government back to reality."
Hathaway also believes the city needs to react faster to pressing issues like the deplorable situation with the New Smyrna Beach football stadium stands compromised by extensive rust, adding these kinds of situations require a plan of action sooner than later.
Hathaway was on the dais four 18 years until 2012, when he opted not to seek another term as he made a run for the district 3 County Council seat that was opening with then-incumbent Joie Alexander barred from running again due to term limits.
Hathaway found himself in a crowded field in that 2012 campaign with then-Edgewater Councilman Justin Kennedy and former School Board member Deborah Denys running as well for the two-year seat.
Hathaway won the primary with Denys finishing second en route to a November showdown in a presidential election year with Volusia County Republicans pushing Obamacare as an evil.
And though the county race was non-partisan, Denys got the partisan support to get by Hathaway, a registered Democrat, in the general election with the GOP getting a Volusia County win for Romney.
Regardless, Obama carried the Sunshine State en route to a near-landslide victory for another four years in the White House. Deep down inside, Hathaway knew his destiny was to follow in his late father's footsteps.
That was then in terms of the county campaign and this is now. with the mayor's race and Hathaway is hungry to get back into elective office.
Opponent Jack Grasty silent on flooding & huge expense for football stadium; gets union support for raises supported by a tax increase for a 2nd consecutive year
Though the mayoral election, too, is non-partisan, Grasty is getting considerable support from the Volusia County Republican Party and Hathaway's former nemesis, Denys, who has a Grasty sign plastered on the front of her husband's insurance business.
Grasty and Hathaway are vying for the mayor's post held by Adam Barringer the last five years, who opted not to seek re-election amid a host of personal financial problems, including the closing of one of his two restaurants, unpaid back taxes and a massive judgment on his family's construction business.
While Barringer, a registered Republican, supported Hathaway two years ago, he supported Denys in her campaign for re-election in the August primary. Barringer supposedly is staying neutral in the mayor's race between Hathaway and Grasty.
And while Grasty has been very quiet in recent weeks, Hathaway has spoken out against the tax increases, the deplorable condition of the New Smyrna Beach football stadium and the lack of planning for storm-water improvements that became a major issue with the recent rainfall that caused massive flooding.
Fulfillment of Hathaway family legacy: Like father, like son
Hathaway's father, William S. Hathaway, was New Smyrna Beach's leading political figure in the 1960s, culminating in his election as mayor for two years, beginning in 1964.
The elder Hathaway served on the New Smyrna Beach Planning and Zoning Board, and was elected as a city commissioner prior to becoming mayor. He also owned and operated Hathaway's Food Store on Flagler Avenue.
So while Hathaway ran for county council, following in his father's footsteps, was inevitable. The only reason Hathaway hadn't done it sooner was the logjam of three successive mayors with Jim Vandergrifft holding down the top seat on the commission for a couple of term before he was defeated by Sally Mackay in 2007.
Then Mackay narrowly lost to Barringer in 2009. Barringer and the commissioners gave themselves an extra year by switching to even-year elections and then Barringer automatically won a another two years at the helm in 2012, when nobody else put in qualifying papers to run against him.
But with Barringer beset by financial and political issues, including ethics complaints, and a whole host of other issues that continue to dog him, including a scandal in the police department that continues to evolve under the former Police Chief Ronald Pagano, Barringer announced on WNDB Radio's Marc Bernier Show (a safe haven), that he was not seeking a third term.
Grasty was the first to throw his hat into the ring, but Hathaway soon followed, knowing the time was right to follow a dream of following in his father's footsteps. Sadly, the elder Hathaway died on Feb. 26, at the age of 97.
Still, Hathaway, would like to honor his father's legacy by becoming mayor himself.
Headline Surfer® believes Hathaway, by far, is better candidate to truly lead New Smyrna Beach over Jack Grasty, who has demonstrated time and again in his eight years on the commission that he is either unwilling or incapable to break away from the status quo of putting the taxpayers second while continuing the escalation of personnel salaries at the expense of vitally needed infrastructure and capital improvements.
New Smyrna Beach desperately needs a municipal leader, something that has been missing for the better part of a decade now.
Jim Hathaway has long ago earned the respect of the internet newspaper, and with it, this strong endorsement for mayor of New Smyrna Beach in the Nov. 4 elections.
FAST FACTS: James West Hathaway bio