Guest Commentary: New chair vows a new day for Volusia County

NEW COUNTY CHAIR — At the Historic Volusia County Courthouse in Downtown DeLand, Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower speaks Jan. 5 at the swearing-in of the county’s tax collector, Will Roberts. Brower, a farmer from DeLeon Springs, was elected Nov. 3 as a newcomer to county politics. He defeated County Council veteran Deb Denys in the countywide race.

BEACON PHOTO/AL EVERSON

Editor’s note: These are remarks given by Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower, upon being sworn into office Jan. 7. The written transcript was provided by Brower.

The purpose of government is to protect our God-given rights. 

Today, you heard four of your representatives make an oath to God to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of Florida.

Recently, I was asked by a former county chair what the Constitution has to do with local government. That long-ago chair took the same oath of office you just heard each one of us take.

It is important to consider that, today. 

Your rights and the future of our county are in jeopardy if the disregard for our own promise to you — before God — is so easily forgotten.

In this County Council, that will not be the case. We will hold the power you have lent to us as a sacred trust.

It has been said one of the chief purposes of the elected official is to protect the people from the bureaucrat. 

Sadly, today, we see that there are times the bureaucrat and the people they serve need to be protected from elected public servants who serve themselves — and not those who elected them.

I will keep my word to be your voice, and I will serve you in reminding all of us who serve in government that we were given no power to lord over you. You, the people, own the power of freedom and liberty.

When you elected us, you expected us to keep and protect your power. 

We the people have a sovereign duty, more important today than ever, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and be the guardians of the liberty of its citizens.

There may come a day when our county manager seeks to serve the great bureaucracy he manages, instead of you, who pay his salary. 

There may come a day when your County Council is more concerned with their political future than their responsibility to serve you. But this is not that day!

I want to share with you, this morning, my great confidence that the county staff you see in this room and others who are not present are dedicated to serving the will of this council. 

It is incumbent, therefore, for each of us to be dedicated to serving the will of every Volusian. That will not be easy, because we are not all the same.

To that end, I have one request. Please, set aside your party label, your suspicions and, especially, your hatred for others not like you.

The most important task of this council will be to bring people together. To fuel a sense of belonging and neighborliness. To encourage peace, prosperity and liberty.

Let’s vow to come together to make Volusia County the safest, most pleasant place, to live, work and play.

To that end, I would like to charge this County Council to view protecting your voice, your power and your rights as our chief aim. 

When you come before us to make your voice heard or even for redress of grievance, I will demand that you be treated with respect, as our employers.

When we debate the spending of your money, it will be your money, in our minds. 

When we debate your requests for the use of your own property, it will be your property and the respect for your neighbor’s property that I will call into consideration.

When we are confronted with what are said to be hard decisions, I will press the truth that there are no hard decisions, there are only right decisions. So we will debate to arrive at those right decisions.

I will show respect to every member of this council, especially when we disagree, and I will ask the same from each of my colleagues.

We face challenging times ahead: COVID-19; instability in state and national governments; and economic challenges. But we have faced far worse in our history.

We must come together if we are to successfully navigate a future for Volusia County. 

We must embrace the same love for our children’s future, the same yearning for liberty that our Founders bled and died for to pass on for our keeping. 

That is the sovereign duty with which I charge this council.

Thank you, all, for this opportunity to serve you.