NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Native son Jim Hathaway has decided against qualifying to run for a third consecutive two-year term as mayor, instead opting for retirement from politics after more than a quarter-century of elected public service to the tourism-driven city known for its charm.
"I am not seeking a third term as mayor," Hathaway, 65, told Headline Surfer. "I am looking forward to being retired from politics."
Who could blame him? After all, he's put in his time and then some.
Hathaway served on the New Smyrna Beach City Commission for 18 1/2 consecutive years, simultaneously serving the first three years on the city's Community Redevelopment Agency or CRA. Hathaway's late father also was an elected mayor of the city.
In 2012, Hathaway retired in favor of running for a seat on the Volusia County Council but lost. Two years later in 2014, he ran for mayor and won a contested race over then-City Commissioner Jack Grasty with 5,735 votes or 54 percent to 4,885 votes for Grasty, for Hathaway's first two-year term. Hathaway won re-election in 2016 without opposition.
Hathaway, who gets up well before dawn to deliver Pepperidge Farm bread to several Publix supermarkets in Southeast Volusia, has grown tired of the often long-drawn-out city evening commission meetings and often afternoon stops into city hall for meetings with City Manager Pam Brangaccio, to spend his afternoons and evenings with loved ones. "I gave more than one-third of my life to better the City of New Smyrna Beach," Hathaway told Headline Surfer. "While doing so, I sacrificed time away from my wife and children. It is time to make up for lost time."
Hathaway, who gets up well before dawn to deliver Pepperidge Farm bread to several Publix supermarkets in Southeast Volusia, has grown tired of the often long-drawn-out city evening commission meetings and often afternoon stops into city hall for meetings with City Manager Pam Brangaccio, to spend his afternoons and evenings with loved ones.
"I gave more than one-third of my life to better the City of New Smyrna Beach," Hathaway told Headline Surfer. "While doing so, I sacrificed time away from my wife and children. It is time to make up for lost time."
Hathaway was elected Mayor at the General Election held Nov. 4, 2014. He was sworn into office seven days later. Hathaway was previously elected to represent Zone 3, northwestern New Smyrna Beach on the City Commission in 1994 and served four terms, until November 2012. He was also selected by the city commission to serve five, one-year terms as vice mayor.
Hathaway has championed many local legislative initiatives by representing the city commission as a member of numerous Florida League of Cities counsels and committees, and board of directors. He also served as president of the Volusia League of Cities and as a member of its executive committee.
A native of New Smyrna Beach, Hathaway earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Stetson University. A local business owner for many years with his Pepperidge Farms franchise, Hathaway had previously managed his family's grocery store. Hathaway, who proudly served his country as an officer of the Quartermaster Corps for eight years in the Army Reserve, is a member of the First Baptist Church of New Smyrna Beach. He and his wife, Paula, have four grown children and four grandchildren.
With Hathaway out of the picture in the 2018 municipal elections for mayor, two newcomers have thrown their hats in the ring.
So far with qualifying in June, the city clerk's office lists the following as candidates for mayor: Joel Paige and Elisabeth (Lisa) Martin. Qualifying begins noon, Monday, June 18, and ends at noon, Friday, June 22.
Judy Reiker leaving municipal office, too
Besides Hathaway, another elected municipal stalwart has decided the time is at hand to say goodbye with the November elections looming. Judy Reiker, first elected in 2009, has decided to retire with nearly nine years on the commission, wrapping up her second four-year term as zone 1 commissioner. She defeated Randy Richenberg for her maiden run, and then after the commission switched to even-year elections in 2010 and giving her an extra year in the initial term, she won re-election in 2014 without opposition.
Reiker currently represents the City Commission as a member of the New Smyrna Beach Police Pension Board. Born in Pittsburgh, Reiker moved to Harrisburg, PA as a young adult, and began her career in title insurance. A graduate of Penn State University majoring in Accounting, Reiker earned an MBA from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Reiker moved to New Smyrna Beach in 2001 and the next year, she established a local Fidelity National Title Office. Reiker's husband died of cancer nearly two years ago.
So far, three newcomers have emerged for Reiker's zone 1 seat in the 2018 elections: Michael Kolody, Jessica Realin, and Peggy Belflower.
Jake Sachs unopposed for a second term as zone 2 commissioner
There is yet a third seat among the five on the commission in this 2018 election cycle.
Jake Sachs, the zone 2 commissioner, has decided he will seek a second four-year term after his big win four years ago. So far, Sachs is running unopposed. Sachs was elected zone 2 city commissioner in 2014.
Sachs has championed many local initiatives related to the environment and pedestrian safety. From 2011-2014, he represented New Smyrna Beach as a member of the Volusia County Citizen’s Advisory Committee of the Volusia County River-to-Sea Planning Organization.
Sachs was a firefighter/paramedic for the City of Miami Beach for 27 years, before he retired in 2002 and moved to New Smyrna Beach. Sachs and his wife, Leslie, are residents of the City’s South Beach neighborhood.