Daytona Beach, FL - In a shocking announcement, Council Chair Ed Kelley announces that he's taking himself out of the 2020 race.
In his place, is District 3 Councilwoman Deb Denys.
The announcement came last night (January 16th) at an awards banquet, where both council members broke the news. Earlier this morning (January 17th), it was made official. Denys filed for candidacy while Kelley withdrew, after amassing $21,000 in campaign contributions for himself.
Following the announcement and the withdrawal, voters began to ask questions. The biggest, why the sudden drop-out? This afternoon, Kelley made an appearance on WNDB's Marc Bernier Show to help inform the public on what exactly is going on.
"The decision itself was one that was very difficult," said Kelley.
The chairman said that he began to think about his decision sometime last year. Supposedly in June, he asked Denys if she would run for the spot if he didn't, she refused. The question came up again after the first of this year, but this time Denys asked why Kelley wouldn't run.
"I said 'I'm having serious considerations based on my family's input asking me not to run," Kelley said to Bernier. "That took a while, but she got back to me and said 'if you're committed not to running, then I'll certainly be willing to do that."
Kelley also told Bernier that the decision was really finalized sometime over the holidays. He said that while with his family and his son – Brian Kelley, frontman of Florida Georgia Line – he began to come to a realization.
"We were sitting with (them) and realized then that we had not seen them in five months," said Kelley. "Brian says 'you didn't see a single show of ours this past year did you?' First time in 10 years we haven't seen one of their performances."
Around Christmas time, Brian apparently told his father that he couldn't run anymore. When Ed asked why, Brian said that he needed him.
"He goes, 'I really need you. I can use you as much or as little as you want to be involved,'" said Kelley. "then he said 'I want as much of you as I can."
Kelley also told Bernier that he began to notice how absorbed he had become in the work that some personal stuff began to feel like a burden.
Kelley: Me and Margaret have been tickled to death that we can decided where we want to go, when we want to go...
Bernier: Well you worked your whole life. I mean, you had all those years between here and Europe and other places for Hawaiian Tropic. And then you serve your city. At some point, the family says "you've given a lot of yourself, leave some left for us."
Now that Kelley's out, Denys and Jeffrey Brower are the candidates for the county chair spot in 2020. Kelley is also the second candidate to drop out of a race for the season so far, with Bill Christen as the first (Property Appraiser).