By Suzy Kridner
NEW SMYRNA BEACH - With fewer than 100 votes separating James Hathaway and Deborah Denys in the non-partisan race for Volusia County Council Seat 3, they are both back on the campaign trail this week vying to be the winner in the Nov. 6 general election.
The third candidate, Justin Kennedy of Edgewater, received 4,228 votes so the former Edgewater City Commissioner missed the runoff. He has endorsed Mr. Hathaway.
A New Smyrna Beach City Commissioner whose fourth term expires Nov. 13, Mr. Hathaway garnered 5,442 votes (36.24 percent) to Ms. Denys' 5,345 votes (35.6 percent).
That means 10 more weeks of campaigning, debates and fundraising for the two New Smyrna Beach residents.
Ms. Denys, who served a four-year term on the Volusia County School Board in the 1990s, kicked off her extended campaign immediately with a school ribbon-cutting ceremony and a political luncheon the day after the election.
Her opponent is planning for his next fundraiser and also is back at work campaigning.
As for the issues, the two candidates aren't that far apart and have no major disagreements.
"I have the experience where she does not, as a small businessman and current city commissioner," Mr. Hathaway said. "I know all the commissioners in Volusia County and have been president of the Volusia League of Cities since 2011, also serving as vice president and secretary-treasurer."
He said there's already one debate set up with the Volusia County Medical Society.
Among the hot topics for both candidates are the size of government, millage rates, the Ocean Center, jobs and the economy.
They both are in favor of driving on the beach, and also the need for more jobs paying higher wages.
His opponent, Deborah Denys, has been active in public service for many years, including working with Cudas Unhooked, a New Smyrna Beach group that aids students, and serving as chairman for the Early Learning Coalition-Flagler & Volusia Counties from 2005-2010. She also was chairwoman of the coalition's Systems Development in 2009, and vice chairwoman of the Volusia County Children and Families Advisory Board, 2005-2009.
"I've always been involved in the community and the next step is to serve at a higher level," she said.
One of her biggest concerns is how to revitalize the Ocean Center to turn a profit and not be such a huge expense for the taxpayers.
"The largest private capital outlay we taxpayers own is the Ocean Center," she said.
She said the "current system is not working. We need to hire a private property leasing company to book and manage the Ocean Center and to look at profit-making options."
She also said she wondered why the county hasn't released the most recent consultants' report that was to determine a marketing and branding approach for the Ocean Center.
"We all know what our weaknesses are, but I want to expand on our strengths," Ms. Denys said.