All precincts in; Nothing changes with Deltona’s last precinct
The late addition of Deltona’s Precinct 415, whose votes weren’t counted until after 10:30 p.m. Nov. 6, didn’t change any outcomes for Deltona races.
Heidi Herzberg will be mayor, Ruben Colón ousted incumbent District 5 School Board Member Melody Johnson, and Bob McFall was the victor in Deltona City Commission District 4.
Precinct 415 reportedly had a problem uploading its results electronically, and the machine had to be transported to the Elections Office in Downtown DeLand for tabulation.
School Board candidate Colón was on hand for that last count, which showed him the victor, with 17,415 votes to Johnson’s 16,883.
Colón said he had heard that defeating an incumbent is very difficult.
“I initially took the attitude that I had to work 10 times harder,” Colón said.
Colón, a Democrat, said he looks forward to working with Republican Jamie Haynes, who won the District 1 seat, as well as with the other members of the School Board.
Although School Board races are nonpartisan, some cast their ballots based on party. The victories of Colón and Haynes leave the five-member School Board with a 4-to-1 Democratic majority.
Herzberg is Deltona’s mayor-apparent
With friends and supporters surrounding her at Beef O’Brady’s, Deltona Vice Mayor Heidi Herzberg was nearly ready to savor her victory, but remained somewhat cautious, with one Deltona precinct among Volusia County’s 125 precincts still not counted.
“One precinct left, the Bob McFall precinct,“ she said, as she awaited the last returns from the citywide balloting for mayor. “I’m very superstitious. I’m not happy until the last one’s in.”
The votes are running in Herzberg’s favor, and her opponent, Santiago Avila Jr., had already conceded defeat.
With 124 of 125 precincts counted, Herzberg had 16,004 votes, or 53 percent, to Avila’s 14,172 votes.
Herzberg, at right, enjoys Election Night with friends at Beef O’Brady’s in Deltona.
And then there was one — 124 of 125 in
Three hours after the polls closed, one lone Volusia County precinct remained outstanding, at a church in Deltona. The precinct voting machine had to be driven to DeLand for its data to be uploaded manually, according to elections officials.
Reid defeats James in DeLand City Commission race
Shortly after 9 p.m., the race for DeLand City Commission Seat 5 was decided, with the voters favoring Planning Board Member Kevin Reid, an accountant, over political newcomer and former City of DeLand employee Markesha James.
Reid had 55.4 percent of the 11,975 votes cast in the race.
“I’m just very excited to have the opportunity to represent the citizens of DeLand,” Reid said. “It’s been a long road, and I’m just ecstatic with the opportunity.”
Speaking of Vice Mayor Leigh Matusick, who served three terms in Seat 5 before deciding to retire, Reid said, “It’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m up for the challenge.”
He vowed to fulfill his campaign promises of advocacy for small businesses, support for the arts, and a commitment to move DeLand forward.
James said her interest in getting involved wasn’t quashed by the loss.
“It doesn’t deter me. I’m going to see what the next steps are,” she said.
James said her daughter, 11, and son, 8, were upset by the defeat, perhaps more than she. She reminded them that Reid, too, lost his first bid for City Commission.
“I told them, Kevin went through this. He lost his first try. It was his turn to win,” James said.
Reid had good things to say about his opponent, who entered the City Commission race at nearly the last minute.
“She had a very positive campaign; I commend her for that,” he said, adding, “I hope she stays active in the community.”
Reid noted his seat on the Planning Board, along with other seats on that board and other boards, are open for those looking to become more involved. Reid said he valued his service on the Planning Board, which advises the City Commission on development matters.
“It was a huge learning experience for me,” Reid said.
Deltona mayoral hopeful sounds upbeat note
As the outcome became evident, Deltona mayoral hopeful Santiago Avila Jr. voiced no ill will or hard feelings toward his rival, Vice Mayor Heidi Herzberg, who appeared to win the mayoral election.
Herzberg received 53 percent of the vote to Avila’s 47 percent.
Scores of Avila’s supporters were on hand in Justin Square for what was supposed to be a victory party, but instead became a time for the dissenters to renew their demands for more open and responsive government.
“We made her run for her money,” Avila told his backers, adding he plans to remain active in city politics. “The fight’s not over.”
With all precincts within Florida state House District 26 reporting results, it appeared that incumbent state Rep. Patrick Henry (a Democrat) narrowly lost his seat to Elizabeth Fetterhoff, his Republican challenger. Fetterhoff had 50.1 percent of the vote to Henry's 49.9 percent. The district, long considered to be Democratic-leaning, covers DeLand and much of Daytona Beach.
Meanwhile, in the race for the District 1 seat on the Volusia County Council, incumbent Councilman Pat Patterson appeared to lose his seat narrowly to challenger Barbara Girtman, who had 50.2 percent of the vote to his 49.8 percent.
With 123 of 125 precincts reporting for the three countywide contests for the Volusia Soil and Water Conservation District, former Volusia County District 1 Councilman Andy Kelly was leading the Seat 5 race with 46.5 percent of the vote in the three-way race, to incumbent David Schaefer's 32.8 percent and J. Mark Barfield's 20.7 percent.
In the Seat 3 race, incumbent Beth James had 45.9 percent of the vote to Christine Wilt's 34.8 percent and Wesley Wayne Wilson Jr.'s 19.2 percent.
"Well, I’m excited. I think it’s dynamite," said James. "I guess I made good inroads, and people knew me, and rewarded me with another term."
"Well, I certainly wish my opponent well, and I hope she makes good decisions for the environment," said Wilt.
In the Seat 1 contest, William Bliss, who raised north of $40,000 for his campaign, beat Derrick Orberg 58.3 percent to 41.7 percent.
"I have a lot of work to do. Soil and Water needs to turn into a functional organization to protect Volusia residents," said Bliss. "It hasn’t been that in a long time, and that’s my goal."
BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN
Nail-biter — County Council District 1 challenger Barb Girtman, left, stands with a supporter at the Democratic Party election-night gathering at Cafe DaVinci in Downtown DeLand, as results show Girtman and incumbent Pat Patterson neck and neck, at times just a few votes apart.
BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN
Inching ahead — Volusia County School Board candidate Jamie Haynes, at right, joins others to watch election results Nov. 6 at Republican Headquarters in DeLand. With 22 of 24 precincts counted, Haynes had 52.2 percent of the vote, inching ahead of Al Bouie. Both candidates are veteran employees of the school system.
Defeated but not dejected in DeBary
Losing his DeBary City Council Seat 4 race to Phyllis Butlien, contender Eugene Kowalski accepted the loss and left Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8093, where he had hoped to celebrate victory.
With all precincts in the River City reporting their totals, Kowalski lost by about 200 votes, racking up 49 percent of the total versus Butlien’s prevailing 51 percent.
“I’m tired. I’m going to hit the road,” Kowalski said as he left the post.
“This means there will be a four-woman council,” he also observed, alluding to the victories of Patricia Stevenson and Mayor-elect Karen Chasez.
Stevenson and Chasez will take their places on the governing body in January, joining Erika Benfield and leaving Council Member Stephen Bacon in the gender minority.
In the Seat 3 race, Patricia Stevenson defeated Howard Gates with 55.1 percent of the vote to Gates' 44.9 percent.
In one of the first races where all precincts reported results, incumbent at-large Orange City Council Member Bill Crippen appeared to handily fend off a challenge from Gaea Nunez, by a margin of 64.9 to 35.1 percent.
“You know, I went up against an incumbent who was well-known, who I do respect — I appreciate him as an opponent and having a clean campaign,” Nunez said. “I am excited about the opportunity to run. I met a lot of amazing people, I have learned a lot of things which will benefit me when I run again, which I 100 percent will. Congratulations to Mr. Crippen.”
Crippen said, “I am very happy with how the results are at the moment. It was a very civil campaign, and I am thankful for that. [You] can’t say that for all the campaigns. I am happy about the things I want to do in the next four years.”
Meanwhile, in the Seat 4 race, Kelli Marks appeared to defeat incumbent Council Member Anthony Pupello, 60.3 percent to 39.7 percent.
Republicans reflect on first results
Beacon reporter Rick Butler got a take on the election from Tim Taylor, president of the Republican Club of West Volusia.
With 17 of the district's 24 precincts reporting, the race for the District 1 seat on the Volusia County Council appeared to be a nail biter. Incumbent Councilman Pat Patterson and challenger Barbara Girtman were each tied with 50 percent of the vote. Patterson held a 26-vote lead over Girtman.
In his previous election in 2014, Patterson won a narrow victory over then-challenger Andy Kelly, 50.24 to 49.76 percent.
State of the amendments
With 82 of 125 precincts counted at 7:46 p.m., the views of Volusia County voters on 12 constitutional amendments were beginning to show.
The proposed amendment getting the strongest support in Volusia County was No. 12, which expands ethics rules for elected officials and government employees, forbidding many officials from working as lobbyists for six years after ending governmental service.
That measure had the support of 77.5 percent of Volusia County voters, while statewide results would not be reported by the Florida Division of Elections until 8 p.m.
Perhaps surprisingly, Volusia County voters were leaning “no” on Amendment 1, which would expand the homestead exemption for property owners with homes worth more than $125,000. With 82 of 125 precincts reporting, this proposal was losing locally, with 52.3 percent opposed.
Wrapping up the other amendments in Volusia County, most were gaining a majority of local voters’ approval, but some falling far short of the 60 percent required statewide for passage: Amendment 2, a cap on value increases on non-homestead property (65.6 percent yes); Amendment 3, which puts decisions about casino gambling into the hands of voters rather than the Florida Legislature (66.9 percent yes); Amendment 4, to restore the voting rights of felons who have served their sentences (59.7 percent yes); Amendment 5, requiring a two-thirds vote of the Florida Legislature to approve new taxes or fees (67 percent yes); Amendment 6, a bundled amendment headed by an expansion of victims’ rights (50.5 percent yes); Amendment 7, a bundled amendment that addresses both college and university fees and first responders’ and military members’ benefits (52.6 percent yes); Amendment 9, which prohibits both offshore oil drilling and the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, at workplaces (60.5 percent yes); Amendment 10, favored by Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, which addresses a bundle of topics and would make the sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and Clerk of the Court constitutional officers not under the oversight of the Volusia County Council (53.5 percent yes); Amendment 11, a housekeeping amendment deleting obsolete language in the Florida Constitution (55.3 percent yes); and Amendment 13, which bans wagering on dog racing (60.9 percent yes).
Voices from the crowd
Beacon publisher Barb Shepherd asked a few voters how they felt about the election. Watch these two videos from contractor Ken Goldberg and DeLand resident Ian Williams.
Polls close, early vote results posted
Ten minutes after polls closed in the Nov. 6 general election, early results posted by the Volusia County Department of Elections showed several close races. The first results posted reflect votes cast during early voting. No precincts had yet reported any results. In the race for the DeLand-area District 1 seat on the School Board, Jamie Haynes led Al Bouie with 50.2 percent of the vote to Bouie’s 49.8 percent.
The same margin put challenger Ruben Colon ahead of incumbent Melody Johnson for the Southwest Volusia-area District 5 seat on the School Board. For the District 1 seat on the Volusia County Council, challenger Barbara Girtman led Pat Patterson by a slightly larger margin, 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent.
Turnout appears strong
Six minutes after the polls closed in Volusia County, the biggest story so far may be a robust voter turnout.
Thirty-five percent of the county’s 399,734 voters had already cast ballots before the polls opened today at 7 p.m. Totals from the Elections Office showed 63,516 took advantage of early voting, while 77,662 voters had returned vote-by-mail ballots.
As the first results were posted about 7:09 p.m., mostly including early-voting totals, it seemed obvious that many races would be very close.
The Beacon ventured to Cafe DaVinci near the newspaper office, where preparations were underway for a Democratic victory party. We talked with general contractor Ken Goldberg and DeLand resident Ian Williams to get their views on the election.
Beacon writer Rick Butler is headed to Republican Headquarters in DeLand to capture a different perspective on the 2018 midterm elections.
Susan Pynchon, executive director of the Florida Fair Elections Coalition, took this video of the Volusia County Canvassing Board examining. signatures on mail-in ballots. The Canvassing Board consists of, from left, Volusia County Councilwoman Billie Wheeler, County Judge Christopher Kelly, and Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis.
Polls close in one hour in West Volusia and most of Florida. Voters are going to the polls to select congressional representatives, a U.S. senator, a new governor, state legislators and plethora of county and city offices.
In West Volusia specifically, tonight's result will decide who represents the DeLand area on the Volusia County Council, and who will fill two seats on the Volusia County School Board.
We will be posting information about interesting election results as they come in, along with interviews with candidates and photos of election night goings-on.