Joe V’s Platform & Positions on 21 Key Issues


The Town of Ponce Inlet lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Halifax River at an elevation of around 9-12 feet. A severe weather event could be catastrophic, similar to what we have seen occur on both coasts of Florida.  By way of example, the city of Port St. Joe was devastated by Hurricane Michael in October of 2018.  If we do not prepare, everything else on our agenda will be set aside.

Resiliency is the science of planning for and building a community that is as prepared as possible for any weather event of catastrophic proportions.  A big part of this initiative involves our codes and ordinances, which I am very familiar with as the Chairman of the Code Enforcement Board. 

If elected, I will work diligently to focus our attention, hold public meetings, marshal logical resources, and pursue grant opportunities that are available to harden our defenses against this threat.  More and more federal and state money will be made available for resiliency projects.  We need to make sure we are not leaving any money on the table.

Council and staff must work together to identify our most vulnerable areas, structures, and resources. New construction should be resilient and flood tolerant. Many very good examples of resilient construction can be found in our community. I hope to see more as our build-out continues, and I will work to ensure that Ponce Inlet moves towards a posture of greater resiliency.

Our Dunes

Our dunes are a critical resource, situated along the front line of our coastal defense.  Efforts to enhance and protect them are an important part of a comprehensive resiliency plan. Homeowners as well as condo associations are starting to install sand fencing to nourish our dunes.  If elected, I will do everything I can to educate our oceanfront residents about sand fences and help to encourage widespread installation.

A number of our residents who have already installed sand fencing are enthusiastic about helping neighboring property owners.  From construction techniques to assistance with paperwork, they are a tremendous asset to draw upon.  Neighbors can help neighbors with these installations and together, we can fortify our front line of defense.

Beach Driving

Our pristine traffic free beaches are the reason why many of us choose to live here. They must be protected and preserved. I am opposed to any expansion of beach driving, and I let our County officials know my opinion about it every chance I get. We currently have two candidates running for the County Council Seat being vacated by Billie Wheeler. I will encourage all our residents to contact both of these individuals to let them know where they stand. There is also an “At-Large” seat on County Council and our residents will be voting for that seat as well.

Please contact me if you would like to have the contact information for these County Council Candidates.  The time for action is now when these individuals are seeking our votes and learning about what is important to Ponce Inlet.

Fire/EMS Service

I have always strongly supported community-based Fire/EMS service. This model has served the town extremely well and I see no reason to change it. Our Fire Department recently initiated the process of becoming an accredited department. As you may know, we provide patient transport services under a mutual aid agreement with Volusia County. We must make sure that Volusia County understands our needs and concerns as we work cooperatively with them to fulfill our obligations under mutual aid.

Stopping Disinformation

Any Councilmember who knowingly propagates disinformation throughout our community inflicts serious harm on our residents.  No candidate for Council or sitting Councilmember should communicate a material change to a policy without first checking with the Town Manager and the department head whose oversight is related to the subject matter.   The failure to verify information without first assuring its accuracy is reckless, irresponsible and should not be tolerated by our residents.

In all the years I have lived in Ponce Inlet, even during the Pacetta ordeal, have I ever heard so much incorrect information circulating throughout the town as I did for the last two years.  All of it has involved our Fire Department or our ambulance and can be traced directly back to my opponent David Israel.  You will notice that he no longer stirs up the ambulance hysteria he ran on two years ago.  During the 2020 campaign, he identified his #1 goal as getting us out of the transport agreement with the County.  It took him close to a year to figure out we can’t operate our ambulance without a license.  He claimed to be the “only one bringing this to the attention to our residents.”  In fact, the Town had been publishing that information long before he made the false claims. 

For 2022, he is now spreading disinformation about the Council allegedly voting to get rid of the fire department.  There was never a vote to get rid of the fire department.  Emails obtained under a public records request prove that David was told in advance that no vote would be taking place and that is was a discovery meeting only. 

David Israel continues to claim that he alone “saved the fire department.”  This is categorically false.  Ask David Israel why the Fire Union is no longer endorsing him.

Sidewalk Safety

Utilization of our sidewalks continues to increase in keeping with the demographic trends.  Our sidewalks are becoming more congested than ever before.  I am very concerned with potential collisions between bicycles, pedestrians and the growing list of electric motor vehicles that are using our sidewalks.

In 2015, I was appointed to serve on the Volusia County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) Citizens Advisory Committee.  Sidewalk safety is something that I have worked on for many years.  One key to sidewalk safety is citizen education on topics such as the basic rules of the road and who has the right of way.  I support subtle non-intrusive signage and educational materials to help make our sidewalks as safe as possible.

My opponent David Israel was appointed to represent Ponce Inlet at the Transportation Planning Organization.  After failing to show up for 6 meetings in 2021, he abruptly quit.  Click here to read his resignation letter.   Mr. Israel quit after it was revealed during a Council meeting that he sat silent during two TPO meetings where the discontinuation of our Votran Bus Service was proposed and discussed.  As our representative, it was his job to report back to Council on anything that would impact the town.  I will never be too busy to work on behalf of Ponce Inlet.


On our beaches, E-Bikes are only permitted in the same areas where other motor vehicles operate, which is south of Beach Street.  E-Bikes operating north of the wood pilings at Beach Street are not legal.  I agree with the current arrangement.  Our traffic free beaches should remain free of all motorized vehicles.

In terms of our sidewalks, the Council took this up a few months ago.  Rather than ban them altogether, a top speed of 10MPH was implemented.  A total ban would have forced children and seniors to operate in the traffic lanes, raising safety concerns.  I agree with their approach.

I believe that an emphasis on education would go a long way toward making our sidewalks safer as it pertains to E-Bikes.  Working with the local vendors that rent them, we should provide an informational sheet that should be presented and discussed when clients are filling out their rental paperwork and before they leave the merchant’s premises.  They should be told where they can and cannot operate and where their speeds are limited.  Most people follow the rules if they know them.

Working Cooperatively

Our Council is comprised of five different individuals with five different viewpoints and temperaments.   Constructive and respectful deliberation is what our residents expect.

My opponent has referred to our Council as “career politicians.”  None of our sitting council members fit this definition.  Two of your current Councilmembers are retired professionals, one is a licensed attorney, and one is an MBA currently employed in the financial industry.  My opponent has also referred to his fellow Councilmembers as a “Kangaroo Court.” 

Charter Violations

All Councilmembers swear an oath to abide by the Charter of the Town of Ponce Inlet.  Any councilmember, who proves to be a serial and repeat violator of the charter should be removed by the voters at the ballot box.  There is no provision in the Charter to remove a sitting Councilmember.  I believe this power should rest with the voters. 

Background Checks

Background checks were raised during last year’s campaign and my opponent raised the issue several times at Council meetings.  Ponce Inlet residents have the right to know the background and history of their elected officials.  Voters are probably not going to perform comprehensive background checks on candidates.  I feel it is the candidate’s responsibility to be forthcoming. 

I recently submitted to a background check with the Florida Dept of Law Enforcement.  Please click here to see the Certified Transcript.  I have never been sued criminally or civilly in Volusia County, any County in the State of Florida or elsewhere.  I challenge my opponent to disclose the same information about himself.  Was he ever sued?  By whom and what was alleged?  Let our voters decide what is and what is not relevant.

Update From the Campaign Team:   Joseph Villanella was involved in an action in Small Claims Court in 2009-10.  By judicial order, the documents were destroyed approximately 10 years ago and did not appear when his background check was done.  The matter was resolved in mediation and settled for approximately $900.

Application of our Land Use & Development Codes (LUDC)

More people are living in and visiting Ponce Inlet than at any time in our history. Overcrowding has become a serious problem throughout Volusia County.  We do not want that to happen in Ponce Inlet. We need Council members that understand and know how to apply the LUDC.  The LUDC is the “road map” for the future development of Ponce Inlet. Within these codes are zoning regulations, ordinances, fee schedules, procedures, and standards for new and existing buildings in our town.

For the last 11 years, I have served as the Chairman of the Code Enforcement Board. I have firsthand knowledge of how our citizens interact with our LUDC. Given the demographic changes we are undergoing, you can understand why my campaign theme is “Right Man – Right Time” as we approach the full build-out of our community.

The Variance Process

Our Land Use and Development Codes (LUDC) as well as our ordinances set forth the rules for many aspects of construction, structural guidelines, accessory structures and various setbacks among other things. In some cases, unique structural circumstances or hardships make it difficult to comply without obtaining a variance.

Applications for variances are heard by our Planning Board, which is made up of citizens appointed by the Town Council. They are experienced and trained to hear these cases and they do an outstanding job for their fellow residents.

The process of applying for these variances can be confusing and cumbersome for some applicants. They may need help filling out paperwork and understanding what is and what is not within the discretion of the Planning Board. I think it would help a great deal if the Town were to produce a brief informational pamphlet or white paper on how to proceed with these cases.

Some variance hearings may also be heard by Council as well. In fairness to the applicant, we need Councilmembers who understand the applicable codes and ordinances so that residents will get a fair and correct hearing.

Clean Water

I support initiatives that would allow residents currently using septic tanks to have access to sewer hookups should they choose to do so.  These projects are often undertaken as a joint effort between Ponce Inlet and the City of Port Orange.  I do not support mandatory conversions at this time. 

One area of concern is the fact that our only fresh water supply source comes into town from the north.  In the event that a severe weather event damaged the supply line, our Town would be uninhabitable until the main line was repaired.  If the damage is substantial and major damage occurs throughout the broader region, we might be faced with waiting an unacceptably long time to restore service.

I would support the exploration of constructing a supply line coming in from the south, enabling a backup supply source from New Smyrna Beach.  The reciprocal benefit is that New Smyrna Beach would benefit as well should their supply be interrupted.  This arrangement could result in a cost sharing approach.

Tree Preservation

The unique and beautiful trees we have in Ponce Inlet are worth all the effort we put into preserving them.  Clear cutting of building lots has become almost standard practice.  In some cases, newly constructed homes were planned and built to preserve as many of the existing trees as possible.  I support policies and development that protects and preserves as many trees as possible.

Much of the effort to protect our trees must be directed to our legislators at the State level.  If elected to Council, I will make sure you voice is heard and that our elected leaders in Tallahassee understand and appreciate how important trees are to Ponce Inlet.

Canopy Roads

One of the most striking features of our Town are canopy roads.  Sailfish Drive and Beach Street (west of Peninsula) are two examples.  These canopies can be damaged by high clearance vehicles, improper pruning as well as severe weather events.

Working with the property owners along these roads and in coordination with our Public Works Department, I will seek to establish protections and best practices to maintain them.  This could be in the form of signage, or advice from an arborist when necessary.  As a community, we should try to protect these unique streetscapes.

Shorelines & Waterways

Ponce Inlet falls within the St. Johns Water Management District (SJWMD.)  Grant money as well as access to environmental experts are made available to help Ponce Inlet achieve its water management goals.  I intend to make sure that we maintain a close relationship with the SJWMD and partner with them to preserve our shorelines and waterways.

Ponce Inlet has an excellent track record of pursing grant opportunities.   In order to take advantage of programs that might become available, we may need to retain experienced grant writers to assist us in the application process.  If elected, I would support funding these efforts whenever there is a substantial chance that we would qualify.

Conservation Areas

Several conservation areas are situated within our town boundaries.   It is imperative that these areas be preserved for future generations and not developed.  Among these are the Ponce Preserve, Timucuan Oaks and Lighthouse Point Park.  Along with several other locations, these conservation areas must always be preserved for future generations.  Voters should get a commitment from any Councilmember that seeks their support.  We never want this feature of our town to change.

Police Department

Our community is extremely proud of our accredited Police Department.  These brave individuals put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.  As a Councilmember, I will always support their mission in every way that I can. 

Law enforcement is becoming more and more technology dependent.  I support modernization of their systems and equipment as needed to protect their own safety as well as the safety of our community.   Investments in infrastructure and technology will pay dividends in terms of public safety.  I was strongly in favor of the license plate readers we installed several years ago.  This is an example of putting technology to work to enhance our safety.

Demographic Changes

Ponce Inlet is undergoing the largest demographic change since I first moved here in 1991.  The percentage of younger adults and children are at or near an all-time high. 

I strongly believe that our younger population represents our future and would encourage them to consider volunteering on one of our boards or committees.  Our younger residents have the energy and the incentive to engage and make a positive change.  At the very least, the learning experience will serve them well into the future.

Citizen Participation

Our volunteers have long been considered the heart and soul of our community.  Each year, our Town holds an appreciation event to thank them.  I have served for over 11 years as the Chairman of the Code Enforcement Board, and I always encourage anyone who is interested in getting involved to take the initial steps and apply for a position on one of our advisory boards.

If you, or a neighbor or a friend you have in Town would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I can walk you through the process, discuss what opportunities exist at any given time and help you or someone else take the first steps.  Although these are not paid positions, volunteering is a very rewarding endeavor.

Property Taxes

For homesteaded properties, the Town of Ponce Inlet makes up approximately 30 percent of the total amount of your property tax bill.  Thankfully, our millage rate historically has been in the lowest quartile of all municipalities in Volusia County.  Considering that we provide our own community-based Fire/EMS and Police service, our Town and Finance Managers have done an excellent job with the budget.  Our cash reserves are very strong, and our debt-to-income ratio is very low.

In addition to our tax rates, the cost of flood insurance is a big concern for our residents.  Our Town’s flood rating  with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is linked directly to our codes and ordinances and is a key metric in determining the rates we pay.  I support and encourage programs and building codes that preserve and improve our flood rating as a town. 

Love Ponce Inlet?

Get a Joe V. Yard Sign Today