An unusual set of election circumstances could spell big changes for the West Volusia Hospital Authority, a taxing agency charged with providing access to health care for people who can’t afford to pay.
All five Hospital Authority seats are subject to election this year, and a majority could be voted in who favor ending the Hospital Authority.
Also in election news, the City of DeLand won’t have one. Two city commissioners were up for election, but no one filed to run against them, so both were automatically re-elected.
The Hospital Authority has five members, and all five seats are up for election in 2020.
Ordinarily, only three members would have been on the ballot, but the death of one member and the resignation of another added two more seats.
Hospital Authority Member Dr. John Hill had originally filed to run for re-election to Group A, Seat 1, but switched at the last minute to run against Hospital Authority Member Judith Craig in Group A, Seat 3.
Meanwhile, former Deltona City Commissioner Brian Soukup, also at the last minute, filed to run for Hill’s seat, and was automatically elected when no other candidate filed.
Soukup and Hill have both questioned whether the Hospital Authority should continue to exist.
Volusia County Elections Supervisor Lisa Lewis confirmed the two men filed their paperwork during the last hour before the filing deadline June 12.
Also elected to the Hospital Authority when they were the only candidates in their races were Dr. Roger Accardi and Voloria Manning.
The fifth race has Jennifer Coen and Michael Ray vying for Group B, Seat 1.
While Craig and Manning have been stalwart supporters of the Hospital Authority’s mission, Soukup and Hill have questioned whether the agency is wasting taxpayer money.
The turnover of five members means a majority could be elected who might vote to shutter the West Volusia Hospital Authority.
That’s the concern of Craig, who will run against Hill for re-election to a second term. Craig said she wasn’t surprised by the last-minute seat shuffle that elected Soukup.
“I was prepared for anything,” Craig said. “I wasn’t shocked, because there was a threat put out that they were going to have someone to run against all of us.”
Several of those involved have not been shy about voicing their feelings about the Hospital Authority wasting funds, Craig said.
“If three not-shy people get elected, they’re going to be determined to vote to disband,” she said.
As for Soukup, he said it’s simply a matter of being responsible with millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.
“We’ve been trying to get the board accountable from day one,” Soukup said. “We thought this would be the only way to do it.”
He added, “We are here to represent the taxpayers and make sure the dollars are being spent appropriately.”
Meanwhile, in DeLand, City Commissioners Charles Paiva and Chris Cloudman both expressed thanks for the opportunity to continue to serve.
“I am very excited to be able to serve the citizens of DeLand for another four years,” Paiva said. “I am glad that I can put my focus on the current challenges we are facing in DeLand, instead of campaigning. I look forward to continuing to move DeLand forward.”
Paiva has been on the DeLand City Commission, off and on, for 19 years.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to extend my service to the community,” Cloudman said. “I would like to think that being unopposed is a sign that the people of DeLand have trust in my judgment and leadership.”
The DeLand City Commission also has five members. In addition to Cloudman and Paiva, members are Mayor Bob Apgar, Commissioner Kevin Reid and Commissioner Jessica Davis. Those three positions are not up for re-election until 2022.