DAYTONA BEACH – Two current Deltona City Commissioners and a former Deltona City Commissioner are all vying to be next Volusia County Councilor, District 5.
Victor Ramos, David Santiago and Julio David Sosa face each other in the August 23 primary election which will determine whether one of the men wins with more than 50% of the vote, or whether the first two voters among them will be in square in the November 8 general election.
The winner will be sworn in in January for the position which brings in $47,797 a year and comes with a four-year term.
The District 5 headquarters is currently held by Fred Lowry, but he is not seeking re-election to the county council. Lowry instead decided to run for a position on the Volusia County School Board.
Here’s a look at each of the three competitors hoping to represent District 5, which covers southwestern Volusia County.
Ramos: ‘Challenges await us’
Victor Ramos grew up in Miami, and he was a teacher and coach there for 12 years. The 51-year-old taught elementary and high school students, and coached softball and bowling.
He also served as an assistant director for a non-profit housing services organization in Miami.
Learn more about the Volusia County elections:Election 2022: Santiago enters Volusia County Council race; Karl will be a candidate for the Statehouse
Santiago’s last race:Collector Volusia: Who will be first?
Ramos moved to Deltona in 2000 and he went on to teach at a Seminole County elementary school and at Daytona State College.
He is now CEO of Mid-Florida Housing Partnership, which has 46 affordable housing units and helps people struggling to pay rent and mortgages. He also runs Palmetto House, a large house in Daytona Beach with small, affordable rental units.
Ramos served on the City of Deltona Planning Board for about five years, then he was appointed to the Deltona District 5 City Commission position in 2016 to fill a vacancy. He was elected to the Deltona City Commission in 2018 for a four-year term.
Ramos was the first to enter the now three-way county council race for District 5. He said he wanted to help address what he believed to be a miscommunication between the county government and cities locals, including Deltona and DeBary.
He also just wants to serve the residents in general.
“I strongly believe that my work and volunteering has given me a broad perspective,” Ramos said.
Its three main priorities are small businesses, quality of life and infrastructure.
“We need to create a relationship with small businesses,” he said. “They need to know who to talk to.”
He serves on the board of directors of the River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization, which is responsible for the urban transportation planning and programming process for Volusia County and parts of Flagler County.
“We see challenges ahead of us with the growth of Volusia County,” Ramos said. “We need a game plan for the future of transportation.”
Ramos said he considers himself a moderate who opposes “overdevelopment” but believes growth is a key part of Volusia County’s economy.
“I’ve always been consistent in my stance. I really enjoy the environment and our trails,” Ramos said. “It’s nothing new for me to defend them. There also has to be some balance between how things develop and how things are going to be paid.”
Santiago: ‘We don’t have time to train anyone’
David Santiago is originally from New York, where he and his wife met while in high school. The couple moved to Deltona 31 years ago and raised their two daughters there.
The 51-year-old sold his insurance and financial services business two and a half years ago, and now works full-time as a business consultant.
Santiago served on the Deltona City Commission from 2003 to 2007, and he served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2012 to 2020.
In 2020, Santiago lost to Will Roberts in a bid to become Volusia County’s first tax collector.
“I lost the tax collector race by a wide margin, but what was encouraging for me was that the area where I served for eight years, I still won strongly,” said said Santiago in an interview a few months ago. “And the majority of that county council seat is also in that area.”
Santiago said he was running for a county council seat because “I still have more to offer.”
“We have tough times ahead of us,” he said, adding he believed he had the solid experience needed. “We don’t have time to train anyone.”
He said the relationships he’s developed inside the state capitol could also help him serve the citizens of Volusia County, and he “always felt Volusia County could do more.” in his participation in Tallahassee”. He believes that “opportunities have been missed”.
Its three main priorities are infrastructure, the local economy and keeping taxes low. He expects an economic slowdown over the next year and he thinks governments need to plan for lower revenues.
He also believes that water “will continue to be a concern over the next few years”.
“If you don’t protect it properly, it can become expensive and rare,” he said. “I have spoken to scientists, and some say that in 10 to 20 years we will have a problem. Some say the aquifer will recharge.”
He said Volusia County needs a unified vision.
“We have to decide what we want Volusia County to look like,” he said. “There are a lot of divergent points of view. We have to give indicators to future investors.”
Santiago wins the race for campaign contributions, with $30,180 raised so far. Ramos collected $17,594 and Sosa collected $6,508.
Sosa: “County at the Crossroads”
Julio David Sosa was born in New York, moved to Puerto Rico as a preschooler, then moved to Florida in 1974 when he was around 8 years old. His family settled in Altamonte Springs, and after high school he took a job in computer operations.
In 14 years, he rose through the ranks to become chief operating officer of a technology company based in Jacksonville. He then moved back to central Florida and worked for an information technology company for 10 years.
In 2006, Sosa, who has been practicing martial arts since the age of 11, opened a martial arts studio in Deltona.
Sosa, 56, moved to Deltona about 20 years ago and was elected to the Deltona City Commission in November 2020 for a four-year term.
“As city commissioner, I see the county at a crossroads with six county council positions open,” Sosa said.
He said he wanted to be on county council to deal with aging infrastructure, water quality, taxes he feels are too high and the pace and scope of new development – all things which he hears from the residents.
“With taxes, we really have to look at the budget,” Sosa said. “Do we have unnecessary expenses?”
He said he opposes any future sales tax increases. He also wants the Volusia County governments to stop making exceptions to their blanket plans to better control development, and he wants the proper water supply to be in place before new development is approved.
He opposes the “toilet to tap” method of recharging water and is concerned about the construction of wetlands.
“What is your action plan for replenishing the aquifer once you drain it?” Sosa asked.
He said that ultimately he just wanted “Volusia County to be the best place for residents to live, work and play.”
You can reach Eileen at [email protected]