DELAND, Fla. -- Joyce Cusack is not afraid to speak up when something doesn't seem right and she is always willing to recognize good works.
One thing that stuck in her craw -- not for the cost, but the cause. In replacing the Volusia County of Governments with the Mayor's Roundtable, the county agreed to buy lunch for the municipal leaders at their one-a-month get-together at a community meeting room at Daytona Beach International Airport. That Cusack would have to bring her own bag lunch did not sit well with her -- considering she and her colleagues on the dais were the county's policy makers.
And so the policy was changed (you can watch the video to see her take on the situation).
Cusack had a lot to say in 2015, right from that first County Council meeting in January.
Take her opening statement, for example: "To the members of the Volusia County Council, and to the staff and to the citizens of Volusia County, I am extremely honored to have been given the opportunity to represent you as the at-large member on this council to be the at-large member in the case that every person that lives in Volusia County would have the opportunity to cast a vote in this election. And of the 154,627 people that voted for the at-large position, 84,174 or 55% of the voters in Volusia County gave me that esteemed honor. And I'm grateful."
Cusack continued, " To those that chose not to vote, chose not to be a part of this great celebration in my election, I say to you, I represent you and I will do all possible to earn the respect and courtesy of all of you. I'm honored that you would give me, a little girl from New Smyrna Beach, an opportunity to live and work and play in this great county we call Volusia County. I hope we can do some great things together. I want you to know that this is a partnership... I'm honored to be here today and to live in America, a country that provides an opportunity for all of its citizens.
Cusack concluded, "To the staff, I look forward to the next four years. I want you to know that I'm your partner, that they said four years ago, I left here giving the shots (vaccinations and such), I was the nurse of Volusia County for 13 years. Now I'm calling the shots. But remember, there are (seven) of us that will help be a part of calling the shots. I thank you, I applaud you and I look forward to our partnership."
And finally, it was Joyce Cusack who stuck to her guns when it came to the biggest issue of the year in politics -- beach driving.
At a May 7 public hearing, Cusack said she understood the concerns that had been raised by the individuals on both sides of this issue. She had previously pledged she would oppose further efforts to restrict beach driving and her vote would reflect this promise.
Cusack, who campaigned in 2014 for re-election with a promise she would not vote to take cars off the beach, said she would keep her pledge despite seeing merit in supporting two developments - a Westin and a Hard Rock Cafe. When it came to voting, Cusack stood alone against three related ordinances. "My word is my bond,” Cusack said. “I will be voting 'no' today because I feel committed that I must do those things that I have indicated and promised that I would do.”
Joyce Cusack, the at-large county councilwoman, who campaigned in 2014 for re-election with a promise she would not vote to take cars off the beach, said she would keep her pledge despite seeing merit in supporting two developments - a Westin and a Hard Rock Cafe. When it came to voting, Cusack stood alone against three related ordiances.
"My word is my bond,” Cusack said. “I will be voting 'no' today because I feel committed that I must do those things that I have indicated and promised that I would do.
”The traffic-free zones for the Hard Rock and Westin would total 1,316 feet, close to the size of 4 ½ football fields. That equates to 87 beach parking spaces combined that will have to be replaced by developers and must provide direct access to the beach.Both hotels will have to provide a number of amenities including spa services and a concierge desk.
The projects would also have to be finished before beach driving is eliminated behind the properties. The Westin and Hard Rock would have to be completed by May 7, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2018, respectively.The third ordinance would allow new development and existing sites in the core district — between University Boulevard and Silver Beach Avenue — to invest in their properties in exchange for the elimination of beach driving behind their properties.
In order to get rid of beach driving behind properties, developers would have to replace a parking spot for every 15 feet of beach driving lost if the lot is on the east side of State Road A1A. Parking lots on the west side of the road would have to provide one space for every 10 feet of beach driving lost.
And so the beachside projects with cars to be removed were passed with one dissent -- that of Joyce Cusack, the HeadlineSurfer.com Central Florida Politician of the Year on this Thanksgiving for a second year in a row.