Incumbent Kevin Reid takes on newcomer Matthew Johnson in the race for Seat 5 of the DeLand City Commission.
The commissioners, who are elected citywide, serve four-year terms and receive an annual salary of $11,601 and rotate.
The primary takes place on August 23.
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Seat 5 candidates
Johnson, 44, is an online/digital marketing executive and business owner.
State business records list Johnson as a director of On Target Digital, LLC and Volusia Parents for Freedom, LLC. While the latter, which was filed nearly a year ago, is still listed as active on Sunbiz.org, the website and social media accounts are no longer active.
Johnson said he decided to go out of business because he feared it would constitute a conflict of interest given his candidacy.
Volusia Parents for Freedom is described as a “grassroots organization made up of working mothers and fathers in Volusia County with a team of hardworking volunteers who strive every day to make Volusia County a freer and more prosperous place. “, according to a Google cached page of the inactive site.
Johnson, who describes himself as politically active, said he never ran for office or was named to the board. He said he served on the board of the nonprofit White Lion Against Domestic Violence from 2013 to 2015.
Its priorities include:
- Government Transparency: I believe too often elected officials ignore the people they are elected to represent on behalf of special interests and big donors. On the contrary, I will be a true representative of the voters who understands their concerns.
- Excessive government power: The number one job of government is to protect the rights of the people rather than to assert their will or advance an agenda.
- Unsustainable on Development: I believe the pace of expensive new housing options is unsustainable for those who currently live and work here in DeLand. Instead, we should focus on affordable options for struggling current residents, while planning for organic community growth.
Reid, 39, is a chief accounting officer at Brown & Brown Inc. He served on the city’s planning board as well as the joint city-county coordinating committee before being elected in 2018 to the city commission. Reid is also a member of the city’s audit committee. He was previously a member of the Finance, Taxation and Personnel Policy Committee of the Florida League of Cities.
Its priorities include:
- Growth management: This was a key factor in the 2022-23 budget process, with priorities set to update the land code and infrastructure investment. DeLand’s focus on growth should be targeted to our downtown area with residential options that limit sprawl and support our local businesses with additional foot traffic.
- Construction of additional driving ranges for youth sports: Necessary for years, I expressed the need at city strategic planning meetings early in the budget process. I am happy to report that the project is within the current budget and we will soon have additional playgrounds.
- Investing in Positive Community Relations: I support the creation of opportunities to strengthen the foundations of community relations. For example, the investment the police department has with the Police Athletic League, creating a program that uses activities like cooking, fishing and photography, as well as other sports to create positive interaction between our police and young people in the community.
Comment from candidates
The following questions were posed to each candidate with a request to limit responses to 100 words. Responses are presented as submitted, except for minor punctuation corrections.
What do you think is DeLand’s most pressing problem and what efforts would you make to address it?
Johnson: I believe the most pressing problem at DeLand is that the same names are recycled over and over between planning boards, committees and commission seats. I see the folks at DeLand being ignored and I can’t help but think it’s time for a change. I come forward to be that change as someone whose goal is to be a voice for the people.
Reid: Growth continues to be my primary concern, balancing community needs, such as affordable housing options, and keeping pace with the service needs of a growing community. I believe that focusing on downtown residential growth will help reduce sprawl in our community and strengthen businesses through reliable pedestrian traffic. DeLand has been a destination for Central Florida residents, which is a big deal, but downtown needs residents to maintain a healthy local economy.
In your opinion, what is the best feature of DeLand and how can it be developed?
Johnson: For me, the best feature of DeLand is its small town feel with a great downtown experience. My family and I live minutes from downtown and love everything the city has to offer, especially the rich cultural atmosphere and sense of community.
Reid: DeLand is great because of the people who make up our community; our small sensation is due to the individuals who invest in our community through service. We are fortunate to have organizations that continually work to make a difference; organizations such as the upkeep of downtown planters by the DeLand Garden Club and the three Rotary clubs organizing the Christmas Parade. We are a community filled with individuals who give back and that is the key to our charm. This charm is what has been a catalyst for DeLand’s growth, attracting people who want to be part of and give back to their new community.
Why should someone choose you over your opponent?
Johnson: The main reason to vote for me is that I am not a politician. I do not aspire to rise in the political ranks, I simply want to protect the rights of the people who live and work in DeLand. I believe the people of DeLand deserve a city commission made up of individual thinkers who can look logically and critically at the issues facing the city.
Reid: As of this year’s budget, an exit to 472 from Victoria Hills is about to begin construction, Beresford is being extended to State Road 44, a state-of-the-art fire station has been built and new playgrounds are under construction. Classes. I have experience and I continue to work to protect DeLand’s charm. Whether it’s connecting with constituents, unfurling flags on Main Street, volunteering on service projects, or being a resource for organizations supporting our community, I am the candidate invested in the community. DeLand residents deserve someone who will work on solutions, not someone who tries to figure out the problems because they were never involved.