County council keeps sight on big picture

By Rachel McCray, Feb 20, 2020

Change and progress was the theme of 2019, according to Volusia County Chair Ed Kelley.

Mr. Kelley delivered the annual State of the County Address Feb. 11 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach.

“We always concern ourselves with the details,” he said. “We never want to lose sight of the big picture. Our decisions affect the community and our citizens and have the power to improve lives both now and into the future.”

The state of the county is required by the charter to reflect on accomplishments of the past year while looking forward with long range goals in 2020 and beyond.

The accomplishments of 2019 were grouped into six major categories. They are a caring community, a safe community, protecting natural resources, infrastructure development, community life and economic development.

According to Mr. Kelley, the reason why the county sets goals for these categories is because, “Each one of them has a major impact on our quality of life here in Volusia County.”

In addition to continued development of One Daytona, with the opening of several new stores and restaurants, upgrades were made to The Ocean Center and Daytona Beach International Airport.

Also, Votran has extended its routes in New Smyrna and the Daytona Beach area.

A short video, narrated by County Council members, was played that outlined the improvements and developments made in 2019 and planned for 2020.

Each representative chose one of the six major 2019 accomplishment categories to talk about.

Full article

For Immediate Release

Feb. 14, 2020


Deb Denys submits required notice of resignation to pave the way for County Chair run


Paving the way for her 2020 campaign for County Chair, Volusia County Council member Deb Denys submitted official notice on Friday that she is resigning the District 3 seat she has held since she was first elected to the council in 2012. Required by state law, the resignation takes effect Dec. 31.


“It has been my great honor and distinct privilege to serve as District 3 Representative for the Volusia County Council since 2013,” Denys wrote in her resignation letter. “This year, I hope to earn the opportunity and responsibility of representing all of the citizens of the County of Volusia, and I intend to seek election to the position of Chair of the Volusia County Council.”


Dated today, the letter was submitted to Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis, with copies sent to Governor Ron DeSantis and Kristi Willis, chief of the Bureau of Election Records for the Florida Department of State.


Denys launched her candidacy for County Chair on Jan. 16 after the current County Chair, Ed Kelley, announced that he wasn’t going to seek re-election. Since entering the race, Denys has been endorsed by Kelley and State Sen. Tom Wright of New Smyrna Beach.


Denys was required to resign her District 3 seat because there will be two years left in her term at the end of this year. By law, she had up until May 29 – 10 days before the start of the candidate qualifying period – to submit her resignation. But she had pledged to submit her notice of resignation sooner so that candidates interested in running for the remaining two years of her District 3 County Council term can get started. Candidates weren’t able to file paperwork with the Volusia County Department of Elections declaring for the District 3 race until Denys served official notice that she would be vacating the seat.


“I’m all in and my campaign is focused on the upcoming election of a new County Chair,” said Denys. “I felt I owed it to the voters and potential candidates who may be eyeing the District 3 seat to clear the way for their campaign to begin. Submitting my required notice of resignation now was the right thing to do.”

Volusia County Chair gives an optimistic view of the future in his final State of the County address at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach.

By Casmira Harrison, Daytona Beach News-Journal

February 11, 2020

DAYTONA BEACH — Following a year full of economic growth, incremental infrastructure improvements and controversial management changes, Volusia County Chair Ed Kelley gave his last State of the County address, and touted space as the next frontier. 

Kelley said the county has taken the first steps to create a coordinated approach to attracting more aerospace jobs to the county.

“We’re not saying we’re gonna go out there blasting rockets off from our beaches. That’s not the point,” said Kelley. “But we are so well positioned in the manufacturing triangle, from Melbourne to Orlando to Daytona Beach. We’re situated right there to be able to supply components for some of these satellites or whatever else they may be able to use in the space program.”

Kelley was referring to regional and national discussions between county leadership and the recent creation of a space overlay zone in Volusia County’s planning map.

The aim of the overlay zone? According to Councilwoman Deb Denys, the designation will help Volusia capitalize on the space industry that is expanding in Brevard County, lessening the time required for businesses to get planning regulations and permitting for their planned projects — so long as the projects locate in the designated zones.

“There’s a growing realization and excitement that Volusia County has all the right stuff to capitalize on the explosive growth that’s enveloping the booming aerospace industry just across our southern county border,” states Tuesday’s program.

“When it comes to economic development, the power of regionalism is truly exemplified by the continued efforts to expand the footprint of the aerospace and aviation supply chain market in Volusia County,” Denys said. “Space Florida brought all the players to the table for an engagement meeting. ... all working together and reaching for the sky.”

She said the recent study on the area’s space industry presents a “golden opportunity” on the horizon for Volusia.

Denys, in a video shown to the audience, also praised several water quality projects underway for the Indian River Lagoon, Mosquito Lagoon, Gemini Springs and DeLeon Springs watersheds, as well as grant funding gained to get a subdivision in Oak Hill connected to the sewer system and do away with septic tanks there.

Other council members also praised the county’s 2019 successes.

Among them, Councilwoman Barbara Girtman touted the ongoing efforts to address homelessness in Volusia. She mentioned the opening of First Step Shelter, as well as construction of The Bridge in Deltona which is expected to open this year.

Councilman Ben Johnson, former Volusia County sheriff, praised the increased public safety improvements, including the attainment of a $1.2 million SAFER grant, the construction of new $12 million evidence facility and increased services, such as the addition of nine firefighters.

Councilwoman Billie Wheeler touted animal safety initiatives, including the opening of a bird sanctuary in Ponce Inlet and historic designations that included the Historic County Courthouse.

Full article

Jan. 17, 2020                                                                                                                                                                From the Campaign:

                                                                                                        Deb Denys for Volusia County Chair/2020


Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys launches campaign for County Chair

After representing Southeast Volusia for the last seven years, Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys is launching a bid for County Chair in the upcoming fall election. Denys, who kicked off her campaign with an official announcement on Thursday, said she’s seeking the Council’s top post to help the county maintain the stability needed to handle the changes and challenges that lay ahead.


Denys decided to run after the current County Chair, Ed Kelley, confirmed that he won’t be seeking re-election.

After representing Southeast Volusia for the last seven years, Volusia County Councilwoman Deb Denys is launching a bid for County Chair in the upcoming fall election. Denys, who kicked off her campaign with an official announcement on Thursday, said she’s seeking the Council’s top post to help the county maintain the stability needed to handle the changes and challenges that lay ahead.


Denys decided to run after the current County Chair, Ed Kelley, confirmed that he won’t be seeking re-election.

“We’ve made a great deal of progress on many of the issues that impact our quality of life here in Volusia County,” said Denys. “But we still have a lot of challenges to face. It’s going to take a steady and reliable hand to effectively address critical issues such as growth, economic development, protection of our precious water resources and the restructuring of county government that’s under way. We need continuity now more than ever, and I’m ready to step up and take on the additional duties of County Chair and help lead Volusia County into a bright and prosperous future.”


Denys was elected to the Southeast Volusia-based District 3 seat on the County Council in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014 and 2018, taking 61.1% of the vote in her last campaign. She served as the Council’s vice chair in 2017 and 2018 and has taken a lead role in the ongoing efforts to improve water quality and attract aerospace-related jobs to Volusia County. During her tenure on the County Council, Denys also has been a leading voice for fiscal conservatism and accountability. Her efforts helped bring back the position of internal auditor in order to add additional financial checks and balances and transparency in county government.


Denys made the official announcement Thursday night during a banquet in her honor. The Volusia County Association for Responsible Development (VCARD) honored Denys during its annual installation and awards banquet with the organization’s 2019 Citizen of the Year Award – largely due to her efforts to improve water quality and bring the aerospace industry to Volusia County. Denys announced her decision to run for County Chair when she came to the podium at the Daytona Autograph Collection hotel to receive her award, eliciting enthusiastic applause from the capacity crowd. “It is an honor,” she told the group. “I am officially going to run for Volusia County Chair. I look forward to working with you hopefully in the future as your County Chair.”


Denys also racked up her first endorsement of the campaign Thursday, as County Chair Kelley joined her at the podium and encouraged his supporters to back Denys. “You have my hundred percent support,” he told Denys. “I look forward to it.”


With two years left in her current term, Denys’ decision to run for County Chair means that she will have to resign the District 3 seat early. Pursuant to Florida’s resign-to-run law, Denys must submit her resignation at least 10 days before the first day of the candidate qualifying period in June. The resignation would be irrevocable and would take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, when the 4-year term of office for the next County Chair will begin.


Denys filed her campaign paperwork with the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Office Friday morning.

Appointment to the Space Advisory Committee:

Given the potential impact in business and jobs for our area, I am so excited to have been asked to serve on Congressman Waltz’ Space Advisory Committee. As stakeholders at the local, state and national level continue working together and coordinating efforts, Volusia County is ideally positioned to benefit from the massive growth in the commercial space industry happening just south of us. With Congressman Waltz’ leadership and support on aviation and aerospace issues, the sky is truly the limit for Volusia County!

Appointment to the Environmental and Water Quality Advisory Committee:

What an incredible honor to be selected by Congressman Waltz to serve on his Environmental and Water Quality Advisory Committee. This is great news for Volusia County, as it gives us a seat at the table when federal policy and funding for water protection and preservation initiatives are being discussed. This is so important to the future of our county and state. Thank you, Congressman Waltz, for giving us a voice and for always watching out for the interests of our local community!

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