By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
Joshua Wagner's filled the Volusia County Council District 2 seat since 2009, and he hopes voters will give him a second term this year.
"I've managed to accomplish a lot of things," he said. "I have a knowledge base now that's incredible, and I'd like to use it to accomplish more things."
Mr. Wagner said that in coming years the county will continue to face a problem of declining revenues. He said that since he went onto the council, the county's general fund has gone from $163 million to $133 million.
"On a local level, our job is to keep the taxes as low as possible, but to keep the services where the public wants them," he said.
Additionally, he said it's important for the county to continue aggressive economic-development efforts no matter how low the budget goes.
"There's still people out of work, and we're still trying to get to the recovery stage," he said.
An approach to economic development Mr. Wagner favors is turning Volusia's beaches into a promotional and marketing opportunity.
"The beach is a very important to me," he said. "Our biggest draw is the beach."
Mr. Wagner wants to create an army of volunteers - what he's calling Friends of the Beach - who'd go around the beaches meeting with visitors, and perhaps handing out waters, sun screen and coupons or promotional fliers for area events and businesses.
"Really engaging with the visitors," he said. "They're coming to our beach; we ought to let them know what some of the other things we offer are."
Mr. Wagner believes the volunteers greeting beach visitors could accomplish a number of things. They could help generate more repeat visitors to Volusia County, and get them coming for more than just the beach. That could generate more revenue for area businesses.
"If they're driving from Orlando for the beach, why would they not want to drive to the (annual) Manatee Festival (in Orange City)?" he said.
Additionally, Mr. Wagner said, the volunteers could help shape thousands of positive impressions a year, which could help draw upstart, growing and relocating businesses to the area.
"There's so many opportunities, and the revenue possibilities are high," he said.
Mr. Wagner's family has been in the area since the early 1900s. The 35-year-old lives in Port Orange with his wife, Jennifer. They have a minor son, Jonah, and another child due in November. Although the county council is non-partisan, Mr. Wagner is a converted Democrat.
His campaign website is www.wagnerforvolusia.com. The phone is (386) 742-4753.