OUR ENDORSEMENTS in New Smyrna Beach: Russ Owen for mayor; Peggy Belflower for zone 1 city commissioner

Headline Surfer video / Multimedia endorsement presentation for New Smyrna Beach mayoral candidate Russ Owen and zone 1 commissioner candidate Peggy Belflower to the tune of the NSB High School Cudas Marching Band.

Our Endorsements in New Smyrna Beach / Headline Surfer

'By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. -- Russ Owen has pledged that if elected on Nov. 6, he will do everything possible to fight over-development as the new mayor of this tourism-driven city where preserving the charm appears to be more than just a slogan.

The key word is "over" as in excess development, and based on that campaign pledge Headline Surfer is endorsing Russ Owen for mayor over Lisa Martin. In the other contested race for zone 1 city commissioner, Headline Surfer is endorsing Peggy Belflower over Michael Kolody.

Specifically, on fighting overdevelopment, Owen said he will "immediately begin pursuing all legal changes that can be made to every facet of our development governance – impact fees, development standards, and density calculations."

Owen continued, "This will start by examining our past failures – touring new and old developments with our building and planning staff and discussing a vision for NSB with our community. Then, I will work with our city attorney and other city and community leaders to adopt changes to our various governing documents that reflect this vision. I will also work with leaders in other counties and cities in Florida (same regulatory environment) to import as many best practices as possible while avoiding legal challenges.

While Owen has drawn a line in the sand against over-development, Belflower has targeted care for the seaside city's environment her top priority.

"Being an advocate for protecting and preserving Florida's natural environment has always been a priority in my life," Belflower said. "No other candidate has my record of environmental activism."

Belflower continued, "As a citizen volunteer, I have an understanding of government through decades of land use and environmental activism, serving on governmental agencies and working with citizens, legendary environmental groups, and businesses.  I have presented at the state capitol, at the St. Johns River Water Management District, at county and city levels across Florida."

Owen and Belflower have campaigned on the need for change on the New Smyrna Beach City Commission and what they see as municipal catering to greedy and over-zealous developers.

Belflower is clearly on point in re-emphasizing what has been all too obvious the past decade. "Truly, "enough is enough" with politics as usual and the system it represents. We can do better. We will do better, come November."

Indeed, retiring Mayor Jim Hathaway, shown here, decided well before qualifying ended in June that he would not seek a third consecutive two-year term as mayor, having lost a number of battles over the years in trying to stem the tide of over-development, including his nearly 20 years as a city commissioner until the end of 2012.

The over-development and its impact on traffic is readily apparent on State Road 44 and the beachside, both of which are tangled in gridlocked on weekends with the day traffic from Orlando and surrounding communities that prefer what New Smyrna Beach offers that no longer is appealing at the World's Most Famous Beach in Daytona due to several large waterfront hotel projects: An uninterrupted stretch of beach driving. 

 New Smyrna Beach Mayor Jim Hathaway / Headline SurferIndeed, retiring Mayor Jim Hathaway, shown here, decided well before qualifying ended in June that he would not seek a third consecutive two-year term as mayor, having lost a number of battles over the years in trying to stem the tide of over-development, including his nearly 20 years as a city commissioner until the end of 2012.

The over-development and its impact on traffic is readily apparent on State Road 44 and the beachside, both of which are tangled in gridlocked on weekends with the day traffic from Orlando and surrounding communities that prefer what New Smyrna Beach offers that no longer is appealing at the World's Most Famous Beach in Daytona due to several large waterfront hotel projects: An uninterrupted stretch of beach driving.  

Hathaway's decision not to run was followed by Zone 1 Commissioner Judy Reiker's decision to walk away as well after nine years on the dais.

These political decisions opened the floodgates with six candidates qualifying for mayor and four for the zone 1 seat heading into the Aug. 28 primary. Owen and Martin finished 1-2 for mayor and Belflower bested Kolody for zone 1 commissioner setting the stage for the runoffs in Tuesday's general election.

Endorsed Candidate: Russ Owen
Office: New Smyrna Beach Mayor
Age: 36
Origin: Alabama native; has been a resident of New Smyrna Beach since age 11
Family: Married with 3 children
Education: Masters in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida; Bachelors in Finance from UCF
Career: Software implementation consultant; previously executive director of finance & budget at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Civic/Community: NA
 
Endorsed NSB Commissioner candidate Peggy Belflower / Headline SurferEndorsed Candidate: Peggy Belflower
Office: New Smyrna Zone 1 City Commissioner
Age: 65
Origin: Oklahoma native, moved to Central Florida in 1978, first in Lake County and then in New Smyrna Beach; a worshipper at Glenwood Presbyterian Church.
Family: 1 grown son, 4 grandchildren
Education: NA
Career: Retired court reporter, captioner & small business owner
Civic/Community: Adopt A Park volunteer/leader, Detwiler Park; New Smyrna Beach; Justice for Ponce activist in Volusia County, resulting in tougher laws against animal abusers; memberships in League of Women Voters of Volusia County, St. John's Riverkeeper, 1000 Friends of Florida, Southeast Volusia NAACP, Sierra Club
 
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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 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.