Council members Heather Post, Billie Wheeler and Danny Robins were also sworn into office.
The most important task facing the recently-installed Volusia County Council is bringing unity among the residents, said Chair Jeff Brower after being sworn into office on Thursday, Jan. 7, as he vowed to listen to his constituents and treat them with respect.
"To feel a sense of belonging, and neighborliness," Brower said. "To encourage peace and prosperity and liberty. Let's vow to come together to make Volusia County the safest and the most pleasant place to live, to work, to play, to be able to drink the water and swim in it."
Also sworn into office inside the council chamber at the start of the meeting were County Council members Danny Robins, Billie Wheeler and Heather Post. Robins is the new representative for District 3, a seat formerly held by past County Councilwoman Deb Denys who resigned her position to run for chair in the 2020 elections. Both Wheeler and Post are serving a second term.
When being sworn into office, Brower placed his left hand on two Bibles. One belonged to his father, and the other to his mother. He assured the public that after spending time with the county manager and staff, he felt "unequivocally" that their main goal was to make this council be successful. He requested differences be set aside in favor of serving.
“You truly are the government," Brower said. "We are your servants. The purpose of government is to protect your God-given rights.”
Later in the meeting, Wheeler was elected as the council's vice chair after a nomination for County Councilwoman Barb Girtman failed with a 3-4 vote. Council members Ben Johnson, Fred Lowry, Wheeler and Robins voted against.
Wheeler, who represents District 2 on the council, won her race by a slim 656 votes in the November elections. Wheeler commented on the riots that occurred in the U.S. Capitol, calling the event a "travesty" and promising the public that the council would never allow similar events to occur in Volusia County.
"Each and every person on this council I know is committed to Volusia County and to the citizens," Wheeler said. "We don't have city lines. We don't have east-west lines, we're all working for Volusia County."
Post said she is excited for the potential that awaits Volusia County, expressing her hopes for council discussion at workshops as well as the new council's focus to listen to the people.
"Know that your voices are heard, but they can only be heard if you voice them," she said.
Robins also spoke to unity, urging for the community to push forward. He said he wanted the public to remember the council works for them.
"You're going to see some customer service I believe, and some energy like you've never seen before in Volusia County," Robins said.
Some changes coming soon to the County Council could also include a change of meeting times. The council directed staff to explore the option of holding meetings later in the day to allow more public input.