By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
VOLUSIA COUNTY - Damien Richards may be a political newcomer, but he's Volusia County through-and-through. The 1994 Mainland High School graduate is vying for the District 4 Volusia County Council seat.
"I've never held an elected office," he said, and added, "I'm trying to bring a fresh set of eyes to the county level."
While Mr. Richards has never held elected office, he's on the Volusia County ECHO Advisory Committee and Ormond Beach's Housing Authority and Historic Landmark Preservation boards. He has numerous professional and volunteer credits, including membership in the Volusia County Bar Association, the Salvation Army's Daytona Downtown Streets Team, and the Daytona Beach Young Professionals Group.
The 36-year-old moved to the area from New York when he was 12. He studied business and law at the University of Central Florida, Rollins College and Stetson University. He said lowering property-tax rates will help solve many problems Volusia.
"Other counties have lower tax rates and people are more likely to move to them," he said. "When you start bringing the taxes down and people together, you can start getting that economic development."
Mr. Richards said, if elected, he'd advocate for an advisory board made up of local small business folks to look through the county's and cities' business permitting processes and regulations to find inefficiencies that can be eliminated.
Additionally, he hopes to expand the county's use of evolving technology to make it more accessible and transparent.
"(We need) to get as much information out there, public, as we can," he said.
Mr. Richards said he'd like to expand the University of Central Florida Business Incubator at the Daytona Beach International Airport, which the county funded for three years, and start other small-business programs. He believes area colleges and universities would be eager to help develop more local entrepreneurs.
"One of the things I'd like to do is work more closely with our local schools," he said. "We have Embry-Riddle (Aeronautical University), Stetson and a number of other great schools."
Mr. Richards is single. His campaign website is www.volusiacountycouncil.com. Phone: (386) 852-6127.