The Observer takes a stand on US House and at-large County Council races.
Early voting starts Saturday, Aug. 18, and the primary is Aug. 28. Do you know whom you're voting for? Here are the Ormond Beach Observer's recommendations. Do you agree? Disagree? Email letters to [email protected].
U.S. House of Representatives
The candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, District 6, were all contacted via email at least twice. They were also contacted via their campaign Facebook pages. Fred Costello was the only Republican to participate; Michael Waltz never replied; John Ward responded via Facebook but said he wouldn’t able to get back in a timely manner, so he would pass.
On the Democratic side, John Upchurch and Stephen Sevigny responded, but Nancy Soderberg did not. After the emails and Facebook message, a phone call was answered by a Soderberg campaign staff member, who said the best thing was to email the campaign manager, which we had already done.
It’s interesting that the candidates who have local ties (Costello, Sevigny and Upchurch) felt the local newspaper was important, while the others apparently didn’t.
John Ward, who doesn’t live in the District 6 boundaries yet, would be an effective legislator in Washington, D.C. But after six years of Ron DeSantis, who was also an effective legislator in Congress but had very little to do with Flagler and Volusia counties, we are ready for a change.
Fred Costello is Mr. Local. He lives in Ormond Beach. He’s a former mayor and former Florida House member. A representative in Congress should know something about the area he’s representing, and if anyone would keep our local interests in mind as he’s on Capitol Hill, it’s him.
We recommend Fred Costello.
John Upchurch is committed to the Ormond Beach community. Comments from people who know him told us, “He’ll do the right thing,” and “His heart is in the right place.” He also was opposed to raising the minimum wage to $15 and opposed to establishing economic tariffs, while Stephen Sevigny said the opposite.
We recommend John Upchurch.
Volusia County Council
As Ben Johnson pointed out at a recent Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce breakfast, this election is between two good candidates. Ron Durham's experience as a pastor and homeless advocate make him appealing. He would likely help to restore civility to the County Council.
However, also as Johnson pointed out, one main difference is experience. Johnson was sheriff for 16 years and knows the history and the players better than anyone.
But the most significant difference is in taxes. Durham predicts that the county will need to raise taxes in the next four years. We've seen that approach already.
By contrast, Johnson is adamantly opposed to tax increases. He survived the economic downturn and learned that government can operate on 10% less just fine.
We recommend Ben Johnson.