By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
He won the Volusia County Chair in a long-shot bid and he's got a few more surprises.
Political newcomer Jason Davis handily beat out former Volusia County Council member Carl Persis in last month's general elections with 55 percent of the vote. Mr. Davis said few were as surprised by the unexpected win than he was, but that's the past.
"I don't reflect on the elections at all," he said. "They're over. It's time for Volusia County to work together. Next four years, there's much to do."
While the County Council is non-partisan, Mr. Davis, 50, is a lifelong Republican. Mr. Davis said he learned about effective leadership in the Army. He served from 1980 to 1993, including operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The sergeant was injured in combat, ending his military career. The Apopka native and Bronze Star recipient moved to the area shortly after discharging from the service.
Before the election, he was a familiar name to some in Volusia -- those who happened to tune into WSBB, AM 1230, New Smyrna Beach. Mr. Davis hosted programs such as "Boston Pops" until resigning after the three-way primary election in August. That vote eliminated Ted Doran, leaving Mr. Persis and Mr. Davis to square off in the general election, since neither got more than 50 percent of the ballots cast.
Throughout the election, Mr. Davis said his top priority as chair would be reducing the county's budget, and paying off bonds it has issued for capital projects. Mr. Davis hopes to responsibly reduce the county's property taxes by evaluating all county functions and eliminating those that aren't contributing to safety or quality of life.
While he's not taken the helm -- that doesn't happen until January, unless Gov. Rick Scott appoints him to be interim county chair this month -- Mr. Davis said he's settling into his office and getting an education from county staff.
"I'm right up to my ears in education," he said. "There's a learning curve, but I'm catching on quick," he said. "I feel I'm ready."
Mr. Davis follows Frank Bruno into the job. Mr. Bruno was the county's first elected chairman. He took the elected position, created by a charter-review process, in the 2004 elections, then again in 2008. Interestingly, he too is an Army veteran. The two men also share broad smiles and hearty laughter.
But Mr. Davis is bringing a few new things to the county chair, such as a couple of Harley-Davidsons. Mr. Davis has a 1988 Softail Springer and a 2004 Electra Glide Classic.
"During Bike Week, I'll be (on the County Council dais) in a Bike Week T-shirt, jeans and biker boots," he said.
But Mr. Davis is just as comfortable in a suit and tie.
"I play classical piano," he said. "Some jazz, too, but classical piano."
He keeps a full 88-key electric piano.
"I don't have room for a baby grand," Mr. Davis said.
That's because of the other musical instruments. Mr. Davis also plays violin, trumpet, guitar and banjo. It's handy to keep them around for his music-composition hobby.
"I pick up instruments and I sort of play," he said.
Mr. Davis also is a pilot and enjoys working with remote-controlled vehicles. The single man has an adult daughter who lives in Missouri. Since winning the primary and general election, he's had a big surprise.
"I've had many, many marriage proposals," he said.
He's uncertain whether they were all tongue-in-cheek proposals, or not. But, according to Dave Byron, county spokesman, Mr. Davis could make history by having the first wedding ever in the County Council chambers.