By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
VOLUSIA COUNTY - Nancy Epps said she's never let defeat get her down.
A loss in her first bid for the Volusia County Council in 2008 by a difference of less than one percent motivated her to try again.
"I wouldn't (run) if I didn't feel pretty good about it (my chances of winning)," she said. "I have a lot of support, and I'm confident about myself."
Ms. Epps, 61, is running for the County Council District 2 seat, aiming to unseat Josh Wagner, the man who just barely defeated her in 2008.
She ran for the seat four years ago in a crowded primary and made it to the general election, losing by less than one percent of the vote. In this year's race, she once again faces healthy competition in the primary. Besides Mr. Wagner, she's also up against Ken Ali.
Ms. Epps considers herself the "most experienced and knowledgeable candidate" in the running, citing experience in both the private and public sectors.
"I have 14 years of continuous public service, and I've been on numerous boards and commissions over the years," she said.
She recently retired from a position as a laboratory director at Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna Beach, where she managed 45 employees and an annual budget of $4 million. She is also a member of the citizens committee for the county's Metropolitan Planning Association and previously served as secretary-treasurer of the Volusia Council of Governments.
Ms. Epps served on the Ponce Inlet Town Council from 2002 to 2008, serving the last three years as mayor. Before serving her town as an elected official, she was a volunteer firefighter for the Ponce Inlet Fire Department when its staff consisted entirely of volunteers.
In her time as an elected official in Ponce Inlet, she said the Town Council lowered taxes several years in a row, replaced the aging town hall and police department, and acquired over 80 acres of land for preservation, including the 41-acre park known as Ponce Preserve that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Halifax River.
Acquiring the land for Ponce Preserve, Ms. Epps said, was one of the "most impressive" accomplishments her council achieved.
"We now have a preserved area from the river out to the ocean that includes some of the most premier coastal hammocks," she said. "It includes one of the oldest oak trees in the state and the Green Mound which is an ancient Indian ground that is now protected (as a State Archaeological Site)."
She said her experience in Ponce Inlet has shaped how she would approach taxes and smart growth, issues she focused on in her 2008 campaign.
This time she also plans to spotlight issues such as economic development and improving social services.
"I'd like to focus on the disparities in the way health care and social services are delivered to minorities," she said.
Ms. Epps believes the county will have many opportunities for expanded economic development in the future, which she attributed to the upcoming construction of SunRail, a commuter rail linking DeLand to Poinciana in Osceola County.
Describing herself as a proponent of enhancing opportunities for local youths, she described the county schools as "fabulous" and also expressed an interest in expanding vocational programs.
Ms. Epps, a Volusia County resident since 1965, said she intends to look at all issues and decisions objectively.
"I don't have a party standpoint," she said. "I only have the community's standpoint."