Wide range of candidates seeking Port Orange council seat
By Lacey McLaughlin
Published: Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 6:58 p.m.
PORT ORANGE — Heading into qualifying week, a former chamber president, citizen activist, general contractor and retired police lieutenant are competing for the open District 4 council seat on Nov. 4.
District 4 Councilman Dennis Kennedy, who has held his seat since 2003, announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election, saying he was ready to take a break from public service.
While the filing deadline is Friday, four candidates have entered the race so far for the primary election on Aug. 26. Former Daytona Regional Chamber President Larry McKinney, who resigned last March, became the latest candidate to enter the race when he submitted his filing papers to the city on June 5.
McKinney cited personal issues involving his divorce and mother‘s diagnosis with bone cancer as the reasons he left the chamber. Despite friction between him and some board members in the months leading up to his departure, McKinney said he has good working relationships with chamber members.
In March the father of three launched the business consulting firm, Midnight Daytona, coined to reflect his accessibility to clients. He also decided to pursue his long-time goal of running for public office.
“If anyone wants to ask me questions about my departure, I have nothing to hide,” McKinney said. “Now that I am not involved the chamber world, I can get involved in politics. It’s an opportunity to speak up for what I believe in.”
The 50-year-old said his experience in economic development would be useful for recruiting projects and businesses to increase Port Orange’s tax base.
“I understand on a deeper level the types of business impediments that could stifle good, quality growth,” he said. “Businesses need consistency from government, good school systems and good employees.”
Port Orange native Newton White, who refers to himself as a citizen activist, decided to run for the open seat after serving on the city’s code enforcement and environmental advisory board this year. The 49-year-old, who has worked in various positions at Publix, said he took it upon himself to hold government officials accountable after $1.2 million in water and sewer billing errors were discovered last year.
If elected, White said his priority will be to increase government accountability and transparency, highlighting the recent error that led to city staff overspending a water meter contract by $400,000.
“I think we need to find affordable ways to provide government services and keep tax rates low,” White said.
Retired Port Orange Police Department Lieutenant Scott Stiltner, 44, believes his career as a public servant makes him a viable candidate. Tackling police and fire pension reform, prioritizing economic development projects and improving accountability are things he’d like to accomplish if elected.
“We are coming out of an economic recession and our roadways, parks, government buildings and other services have fallen behind,” he said. “We have to catch up and reallocate our priorities.”
As a general contractor who faced hardships during the recession, candidate John Junco, owner of New Horizon Construction, said he can identify with residents and business owners in the city.
“As someone who is self-employed I have a lot of sympathy for business owners who are struggling,” Junco, a U.S. Navy veteran, said.
While the concerns of residents come first, the 52-year-old father of two said he’s focused on positive growth that benefits residents and making infrastructure him improvements to accommodate future businesses and economic development.