By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
VOLUSIA COUNTY - Justin Kennedy was elected to the Edgewater City Council in 2010, and he wants to represent Southeast Volusia on the County Council.
"I like the Edgewater council," he said. "I enjoy being on it. (Running for the County Council) seems like the right thing to do. The city is in as good a shape as the city can be in with our current economic climate. There are some good candidates willing to run to serve in my place."
Mr. Kennedy was born in Orlando, but moved to Edgewater when in the first grade. He graduated from New Smyrna Beach High in 1988, and went to Daytona Beach Community College, then Radford University, Virginia, where he studied accounting.
Mr. Kennedy said Volusia needs to better use its most valuable physical asset - the beach.
"I think we're missing beach revenue," he said. "We're still charging $5 a person to get on the beach. I'd keep (Volusia) residents at $5 (for beach-parking passes). What we're missing is people who come form Orlando for the day. They get their supplies in Orlando, or Seminole County, and come enjoy our beach for $5."
The 41-year-old said he'd like to increase the beach-parking fee for non-residents to $15 or $20 and borrow an idea from his children's schools: coupon books. Mr. Kennedy said the county could raise revenue by turning beach-parking passes into coupon books. Local businesses could advertise with coupons in the book and generate additional business for the area.
"We're watching dollars drive west every afternoon," he said.
Mr. Kennedy is a landscape contractor. His wife, Susan, and he have five minor children. While the county council races are non-partisan, Mr. Kennedy is a converted Democrat. He advocates reducing property taxes related to the general fund, and offset those reductions with increases or additional fees for services.
"The county brings in revenue other than tax revenue," he said. "We've got to narrow that down and look at it from a business mentality."
Additionally, he said he'd like to transfer running the county's Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, to a private company.
In addition to serving on the Edgewater City Council, Mr. Kennedy served on the city's planning and zoning board.