By Joe Crews
For Hometown News
It took a judge's ruling for Big John to enter the race for mayor of Holly Hill. Now he vows to change the culture at city hall if he wins.
Mr. John took the city to court when City Clerk Valerie Manning refused to qualify his candidacy because of a campaign finance technicality.
"I appointed myself treasurer and opened my campaign account before I signed a form appointing myself as treasurer," he said.
Circuit Judge Richard Graham, however, ruled the radio talk-show host and former county councilman could appear on the ballot despite the violation.
Mr. John said he made the last-minute decision to enter the race because he felt city officials had become "arrogant" and not responsive to citizens.
And it all began when he asked for, but was denied, a speed bump on the street where he lives
"It started with a speed bump, but now it has gone beyond that," he said. "The more I look at city hall, the less I like it."
Mr. John served a dozen years on the County Council until he was defeated in the 2002 election. He hasn't held any other elective office, but has served on "too many to count" advisory boards.
While not married "since 1984, I think," Mr. John and his significant other, Sweetie Kincade, have been together for more than nine years.
Mr. John said the biggest problem facing the city starts at its primary municipal building.
"It's arrogance, [it's] us versus city hall," he said. "We need a change of culture."
Mr. John noted the city's property tax rate is the highest in Volusia County at about $7.90 per $1,000 of assessed value - yet, the City Commission recently proposed increasing it for the coming fiscal year.
"That's unconscionable," he said. "There's a bunch of poor people in Holly Hill."
Over the last 10 years, he said, the city's property tax rate has risen 107.3 percent, while property values have dropped. The median value of a home in Holly Hill is $89,000, he said, the lowest of any city in the county.
Mr. John also said municipal services cost the city too much. He would favor looking for providers outside of the city to provide the same services at a lower cost.
"I tell people if you like the way things are, vote for Roy [Johnson]. If you're undecided, vote for Roland [Via]. If you want change, vote for me," he said. "I will rock the boat."
John, Johnson and Via will face each other in the mayoral race Aug. 14. If no one gets half or more of the votes, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff election Nov. 6.