With one candidate having dropped out, the race for Ormond Beach City Commission Zone 2 has been decided.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Travis Sargent has been elected after his opponent, local Abraham Lincoln reenactor Lew Welge withdrew from the race on Monday, July 11. In his letter of withdrawal, Welge stated that he was dropping out of the race due to "a statutory exigency associated with the legal definition of the term 'permanent resident.'"
In an email to Ormond Beach's city clerk last week, he explained that he had lived at his Ormond Beach home since the summer of 1991, but that he owns and regularly stays at a home in Gainesville that he inherited from his mother upon her death in 2014. He said that "for sentimental, practical and historical reasons," he homesteaded the residence in 2016, making him not a permanent resident of the city by legal definition.
To run for the City Commission, candidates must have lived within the city limits for at least one year before qualifying, and must reside in the zone in which they are seeking office for no less than 30 days prior to qualifying.
"Maintaining aspiration to win elective office, I do plan to portage my “Homestead” (property tax exemption) back here to Ormond Beach next year, and to again seek 'Public Service' as a candidate for the Zone 2 Ormond Beach City Commission in the 2024 election," said Welge in the email to the city clerk.
Sargent, who has worked in insurance for the past 20 years and is also a local assistant youth baseball coach, said he's looking forward to working for the citizens of Ormond Beach. He will be sworn into office after the general election in November, along with the others who win their races.
Some of the issues he believes the city needs to work on include updating the city website to increase transparency with the citizens, increasing pay for Ormond Beach police officers, and updating the voluntary noise abatement program at the Ormond Beach airport.
"We need to make the airport a good neighbor," Sargent said. "We need, maybe, an advisory board comprised of residents that live in neighborhoods that are affected by the noise and try to to mitigate it as much as possible."
One City Commission race is set to be on the Aug. 23 primary ballots: Zone 1, which has three candidates. If no candidate earns greater than 50% of the vote, the two candidates with the most votes will head to a runoff in the Nov. 8 election. The mayoral and Zone 4 races will also be decided on Nov. 8.