Reagan and taxes are the hot political topics in DeLand, Fla.
Azaleas, pink and white, are in bloom here now. And the girls' basketball team at DeLand Senior High School just won the state championship in its division.Skip to next paragraph
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Now, as Florida's March 13 primary approaches, a 30-minute drive around this city of 17,000, about 20 miles west of Daytona Beach, shows that many cars are plastered with bumper stickers.
But not one of those seen had anything to do with Campaign '84.
Instead, they included such gems as: Have you hugged your cat today?; Ask about my grandbaby; Protect our Florida manatee; and several promoting DeLand.
The really hot topic here is not Gary Hart's victories in New Hampshire, Maine, and now Vermont, nor Walter Mondale's chances of stopping him. The No. 1 topic here is Amendment 1, a statewide proposal to limit government revenue that makes California's Proposition 13 (which limited only property taxes) look mild. Prop 1, as it is called, is scheduled to be on the Florida ballot in November, put there by the citizen-initiative process, the same process that launched Proposition 13.
One reason for the lack of excitement about the Democratic jostling for the nomination may be that a lot of Democrats here are likely to vote for President Reagan next fall. In 1980 he carried Florida, including DeLand, despite the fact that Democrats outnumber registered Republicans locally and statewide.
''I think Reagan is strong in Florida,'' says DeLand Mayor Jim Ed Summerhill, whose purple tie has little white outlines of the state of Florida on it. As for election talk, ''I don't hear anything in town about it,'' he says as he leaves a Kiwanis Club meeting here.
What worries him is that Prop 1 might pass. If it does, he says, ''I don't know how we'll keep going.'' City Manager D. Scott Rohlfs predicts DeLand will have to cut back on services such as trash collection and fire protection to areas just outside the city limits.
Instead of limiting spending, the ballot proposal limits the revenue that local, county, and state government agencies can receive from all sources. The agencies could receive no more than they did in the 1980-81 fiscal year, with some increases allowed for inflation. The proposal is being challenged before the state Supreme Court as too broad to be constitutional.
Florida already ranks lower than any other state in yearly state spending per person: $413 vs. $633 average nationwide, according to the federal Census Bureau.
At the Kiwanis luncheon, an all-male, all-white gathering (despite DeLand's 22 percent black population), there were ample helpings of salads, pork, and chicken. Before the meal, Republican Andy Zeock said he would probably vote for Prop 1 unless someone came up with an alternative. He feels politicians have been ''going overboard'' in spending.
Retired school principal John Hall, a Democrat who moved here from Maryland, said he may vote for Gary Hart in the primary because of Mondale's ''weakness.'' Among other things, Mr. Hall is concerned about the quality of the local water supply and the national deficits.
Realtor Joan Cornett says the federal deficit is the nation's ''biggest problem.'' Then she adds: ''I am a registered Democrat but will probably vote Republican.''
On busy Woodland Boulevard, shoe repairman Danny Gainin, who once ran for mayor, leans over his crowded counter and says: ''I'm going to be honest with you. I'm a Democrat, but I like Reagan. I think he's been a strong President.''