By Andreas Butler
For Hometown News
History was made in Daytona Beach when Derrick Henry was elected Mayor on Nov. 6.
Mayor-elect Henry is a former city commissioner, educator and businessman who beat out Zone 1 Commissioner Edith Shelly. He garnered 55 percent of the vote to Shelly's 45 percent for a 2,735 vote victory margin.
Though he isn't the first black mayor (it was Yvonne Scarlett-Golden), Mayor-elect Henry will be the first black man to hold the post and second black Mayor in a city that was once segregated.
"I think my election shows that we have grown. Mayor Scarlett-Golden paved the way. We are over our racial separation. It's important and race is a factor, but it's not the defining factor," he said. "I was able to run with limited resources and not the support of the status quo endorsements. I believe that I reflect the demographics of the city. We have a 36 percent black population and five colleges. My professional experience as an educator also helped me. I have worked with both colleges and public schools."
One of Mayor-elect Henry's main goals is to unify the city, which was pushed in his campaign slogan, "One City, One Vision."
"We have been a divided city as Beachside and Mainland as well as business and residents. I aim to unify. We need to recognize that the city is big enough and diverse enough to embrace different elements of business and ideas. We want to attract a diverse experience for our residence and visitors," he said.
Some of the other goals that Mayor-elect Henry aims to accomplish are improving the infrastructure, addressing the police and firefighters' pension, and changing the city's image of hostility to business.
"We want an image of being open and friendly to businesses, not hostile. We need to improve our infrastructure, which will attract more businesses. We also must deal with our pension for the police and fire fighters, which sit at $8 million dollars in the red. That will help free up funds for other things," he said.
There are other political leaders who see a capable leader in Mayor-elect Henry with hope and promise.
"I think that he will do a good job. (The mayor-elect) has experience having been a commissioner and he is familiar with the issues," said State Rep. Dwayne Taylor, who represents district 26. "I believe that he will address the needs of the community. He also has people around him who can help him get things done."
"(The mayor-elect) fought an excellent race and got a lot of support from a cross section of the community. I believe that he will bring the city together," said Cassandra Reynolds, Daytona Beach Zone 6 Commissioner. "There are a lot of people that believe in him. I think that he will follow through on his platform."
Volusia County Councilman Joshua Wagner said, "I think that the voters let the community know what they were looking for by choosing Henry. The city should be excited. He brings a fresh perspective. I believe that he will build upon the legacy of Glenn Ritchey and Yvonne Scarlet Golden before him. Daytona made the right choice."