Headline Surfer Endorsement: Marilyn Ford rightful choice in special election to succeed late husband on Port Orange City Council

Marilyn Ford is the endorsed candidate of the internet news site in today's Port Orange City Council election / Headline Surfer Photos for Headline Surfer / Marilyn Ford is shown with her late husband, District 1 Port Orange City Councilman Robert Ford in a pic from a year ago before he succumbed to cancer in December at age 74. Marilyn Ford is the endorsed candidate of the internet news site among five vying to finish the remainder of his term in today's special election, with 55,000 voters citywide eligible to cast votes between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. 
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

PORT ORANGE, Fla -- Marilyn Ford should be given the nod over four other candidates by the voters in a special election to succeed her late husband, Robrt Ford, for the district 1 seat he held on the Port Orange City Council because she's the most experienced and she wants to continue his conservative approach to municipal spending while ensuring essential services likes public safety are provided.

Bob Ford passed away in December after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 74. In addition to his established tenure on the council - he was merely a month into his third four-year term when he died - he was the former longtime police chief so he  had a  strong handle on policing needs.

Marilyn Ford, the 66-year-old retired Volusia County Department of Corrections director, has vastly more experience in government than her four opponents combined. Not much is known about these other candidates, who include:

• Savannah Weaver, a 23-year-old culinary graduate and stay-at-home mom;

• Jonathan Reed Foley, 26, a musician and church board member;

• Paul Blanton Rozar, a 66-year-old retired auto-service manager;

• Leandro "Lee" Berreiro, who is retired.

The qualification period got under way on Feb. 18 and ended on Feb. 22, from which the five were certified as official candidates for the public municipal office. Port Orange will hold its primary for this special election on Tuesday with registered voters throughout the city eligible to take part in the voting. If no single candidate emerges with 50 percent plus an additional vote, then the top two vote getters will continue on to a June 11 runoff election.

Common denominator issues among the candidates include:

• Infrastructure and revitalization of the the Ridgewood Avenue corridor;

• Finding ways to ease traffic congestion on the city's east-west main road artery, Dunlawton Avenue;

• Looking at ways to hold the line or even cut municipal spending while prioritizing essential services such as police, fire and ambulance transports;

• Continuing efforts to enhance city parks and recreation facilities. Such issues are pretty much standard fare for policy making in a city manager form of government, where power is centralized. 

But who best among the five to tackle these ongoing issues and services and how to implement while holding down costs for such services requires a candidate who understands the importance of setting policy and procedure in making these things happen in a fiscally prudent way and through consensus building on the dais while establishing rapport with citizens.

The other four members of the council - Mayor Don Burnette and City Councilmen Chase Tramont, Drew Bastian and Scott Stiltner - all believe Marilyn Ford is the best candidate for the job.

And while the seat is non-partisan, The Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Volusia County, stands squarely behind Marilyn Ford, who served as its interim chair between the February death of Tony Ledbetter and the March ascension of Paul Deering as the GOP's new chair.

Here's the bottom line: The experience among the others is lacking in comparison to Marilyn Ford's, and then there's the respect issue: Robert Ford was an experienced public servant and politician and so is his wife. Mailyn Ford is the rightful candidate to succeed her late husband and as such she is the endorsed candidate of Headline Surfer in Tuesday's election.

The winner of the election will serve out the nearly four-year term left by former councilman Bob Ford, who succumbed to cancer on Dec. 22, less than a month into his third term, which carries an annual salary of $13,600.

Maureen France, a local political consultant and a former elected DeLand city commissioner, said she believes Marilyn Ford will prevail in the election, not because she's the widow per se, but because she's the most qualified. "When people see an opening for an open seat, they pursue it," France told Headline Surfer. "Marilyn, on her own merits would be a representative ready to serve on day one. (It) has nothing to do with succeeding her husband. She is ready-to-serve with her career credentials. I would not want just a spouse, but one who understands the playing field. Anytime there’s an open seat, wannabes come out thinking it’s an easy election. In this case the window spouse is extremely qualified and will probably blow them all away."

Maureen France / Headline SurferMaureen France, a local political consultant and a former elected DeLand city commissioner shon here, said she believes Marilyn Ford will prevail in the election, not because she's the widow per se, but because she's the most qualified.

"When people see an opening for an open seat, they pursue it," France told Headline Surfer.

"Marilyn, on her own merits would be a representative ready to serve on day one. (It) has nothing to do with succeeding her husband. She is ready-to-serve with her career credentials. I would not want just a spouse, but one who understands the playing field. Anytime there’s an open seat, wannabes come out thinking it’s an easy election. In this case the window spouse is extremely qualified and will probably blow them all away."

Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis said there are approximately 55,000 registered voters eligible to vote in Tuesday's non-partisan election in Port Orange, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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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 for a decade now. 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 dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.