By Meagan McGone
COCOA - Five Cocoa residents have qualified to run for mayor of Cocoa in the upcoming fall election.
Laura Houston, Esther Marcelle, James McCarthy, Henry Parrish and Jake Williams will vie for mayor on the ballot during the General Election on Nov. 6.
Basic information about the candidates is as follows:
. Age: 59
. City: Cocoa
. Years as resident: 21
. Occupation: retired mortgage broker, retired from U.S. Army and National Guard
. Education: associate's degree in social services from Mercer County Community College in Trenton, N.J.; graduate of the U.S. Army Primary Leadership Development Course in Ft. Bliss, Texas
. Organizations affiliated with: U.S. 1 Redevelopment Board, National Urban League, Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce, Merritt Island Civic League, foster parent, Guardian ad Litem, Space Coast Postcard Club
. Number of children: one son, eight grandchildren
. In 100 words or less, explain what makes you the best candidate for mayor of Cocoa: "I have a positive, 'can-do' attitude, the experience to lead and the discipline to stay focused.
'Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.' I responded by joining the U.S. Military, getting involved in the community, volunteering for boards, speaking out when necessary, and now I'm running for public office.
The economy and jobs are my No. 1 priority. Cocoa must remain debt free. Crime is down, but we must do better. The reconstruction of U.S. 1 began in 2013; many businesses and lives will be disrupted. Together, we must face these challenges, and together we are the solution."
. Age: 50
. City: Cocoa
. Years as resident: 13
. Occupation: caregiver
. Education: director's credentials for early learning from Brevard Community College in Cocoa
. Organizations affiliated with: Emmanuel's Turning Point in Cocoa, Faith Temple Christian Center in Rockledge, inspirational speaker for single parents with children, Family Counseling Service, volunteer for the Brevard County School Board, volunteer for Health First
. Marital status: divorced
. Number of children: three children, one grandchild (and another on the way)
. In 100 words, explain what makes you the best candidate for mayor of Cocoa: "I have raised two generations of children in Cocoa. Through my occupation, I opened my home and heart to the community, so parents could go to work, and it has been a pleasure.
I'm not looking for what Cocoa can give me; I am looking for how I could serve Cocoa.
I would like to inspire people to volunteer the gifts God gave them, and beautify our community by fixing up abandoned buildings, and implement programs to help low-income, first homebuyers or business owners live their American dream.
Everyone deserves to have a voice in the community, yet Brevard County doesn't have a mental hospital, and Cocoa doesn't have a medical hospital, however, it has a jail. Together, we can make a difference for everyone.
Don't give up hope. Remember to vote on Nov. 6."
. Age: 52
. City: Cocoa
. Years as resident: 17
. Occupation: owner and operator of Sundancer Gallery, a Native American Art Gallery, in Cocoa Village
. Education: associate's degree in business administration from Brevard Community College; studied business management and computer science at the University of Central Florida in Orlando
. Organizations affiliated with: Historic Cocoa Village Association, Cocoa Main Street, Native Rhythms Festival, Citizen Advisory Committee for the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization for Brevard County, Redistricting Committee for the City of Cocoa, member of A.B.A.T.E. (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments)
. Marital status: engaged to fiancÚ, Hollie Hess
. Number of children: three
. In 100 words, explain what makes you the best candidate for mayor of Cocoa: "For more than 16 years, I have dedicated myself to helping the citizens of Cocoa and making our city a safer and better place to raise our children. I've served on the City Council for eight years and two terms as your deputy mayor. Also, I served on two state boards, three county boards and five city boards. I feel that this gives me the knowledge and experience necessary to run our city. My family has owned and operated small businesses in Cocoa for more than 35 years. I want to attract new businesses, create new jobs for our citizens and become more business friendly. Experience, Leadership, Vision, Integrity."
. Age: 49
. City: Cocoa
. Years as resident: 37
. Occupation: works in product development and engineering at Brunswick Boat Group; owner of Parrish Grove Inn Bed & Breakfast; owner of residential rental properties
. Organizations affiliated with: Brevard County Historical Commission, which was founded by mother, Ada E. Parrish, 50 years ago; organizer of a neighborhood crime watch program; governor's appointee to the Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA)
. In 100 words, explain what makes you the best candidate for mayor of Cocoa: "I'm passionate about Cocoa's future and confident we can restore its image as a leader in Brevard County. My economic development and public relations experience includes my prior service on the TRDA, to which I was appointed by a former governor. My experience on the TRDA gives me the knowledge that's needed to work with city staff to create an environment that will attract businesses and jobs to our city. My family roots (I am a member of one of Florida's pioneer families, dating back 189 years) have prepared me for public service. My vision is to unify the city, and I will work for all the citizens."
Jake Williams Jr.
. Age: 52
. City: Cocoa
. Years as resident: 52
. Occupation: employee at Sierra Lobo Inc. and NASA for 24 years
. Education: associate's degree in business administration and criminal justice management and a certificate in general business from Phillips Jr. College (now called Everest University) in Melbourne
. Organizations affiliated with: Cocoa City Council, Florida League Of Cities Urban Administration Committee Chair, Council Liaison to the Cocoa Planning and Zoning Board and Code Board, Cocoa Redevelopment Agency, Cocoa YMCA Board, Cocoa Main Street, Light House Keeper of Canaveral Light House, Florida League of Cities
. Marital status: married to wife, Cynthia
. Number of children: three children, four grandchildren
. In 100 words, explain what makes you the best candidate for mayor of Cocoa: "I have the experience, and I have a great relationship with our state legislators. Through these tough economic times, we need someone with experience, knowledge and someone who knows the issues, and, most of all, someone with a plan to take the city of Cocoa to the next level. With that being said, I mean continuing to foster better communication with all, a plan on how to reduce our street-level crimes, eliminating blight in our city, and doing more street-scape along main roads and streets traveled through our city."
For more information, visit www.votebrevard.com.