EDGEWATER – Diezel Depew has always been interested in politics and has always been involved in his community.
The 17-year-old Edgewater resident even started (and continues to operate) his own lawncare business when he was just 12 years old.
But on Tuesday, April 5, he took on the biggest challenge of his life when he announced his run for mayor of Edgewater.
“I’m very blessed to have this opportunity to run and support the citizens (of Edgewater),” Depew said in an interview.
More political news:Volusia School Board candidate claims Sheriff Mike Chitwood endorsement in bustling race
And then there were 2:Paul Zimmerman drops out of the Volusia County Council District 2 race
Despite his young age and the fact he can’t yet vote himself, Depew said he’s not afraid of the task ahead.
“I’m prepared for it,” Depew, who will turn 18 in May, said. “Everyone in the community has actually been supportive. I’m bringing forward the issues that they have been talking about for so many years now, and finally they have a politician who will work towards finding solutions in their little town. “
Depew was born and raised in the southeast Volusia town. He is a senior and the class president at New Smyrna Beach High School, where he will also graduate in May. He said his friends and family “loved it” when they first heard he was running for mayor.
“They’re getting the word out there for me,” he said.
Depew’s mother, Darla, said she was “super proud” to see her son take on this challenge.
“I’m very happy that he’s doing it, and I think he’s doing it for the right reasons,” Darla Depew said.
Her son, she said, has been involved in politics – studying and preparing for political life – for many years, and has truly shown his passion for it.
“I was scared for him – about how people would perceive it,” she said. “But through his whole life, he’s always related to adults very well and enjoyed spending time with older people and learning their wisdom. So I think it’s a good calling for him. ”
Helping his community
Depew said he has always felt the need to help his community in any way he could.
“I’m always looking at new businesses I can bring here to Edgewater, businesses that I can personally start,” he said.
Depew started his own lawncare business when he was just 12 years old. He said his parents were against the idea, so he set out to do in on his own.
“My parents didn’t want me to start a lawn business, so I bought my first lawnmower with quarters and did everything on my own,” Depew said. “So I started pushing it around Florida Shores lawns. I’d knock on your door and if you’d agree, I’d start mowing right away. ”
Today, his lawncare service, Deez Cuts Lawn Care, is a proper commercial business. Depew said he takes care of gardening for one of his clients, Burns Science and Technology Charter Community School in Oak Hill.
Depew started attending City Council meetings about four years ago and getting more involved in politics.
“Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to get into politics,” he said. “I’ve always said that it’s always important for politicians to say the truth in what is going on and always relate to the public in any way they possibly can.”
He added: “Politics really involves everyday life for everybody – whether it’s taxation, utility bills, roadways, anything.”
Depew said that his principles stand on the Republican side. In his social media pages, he has shared several pictures next to prominent Republican political figures such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.
He said that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) Is someone whose story in politics inspired him to run for office.
“She had next to no political experience whatever and she won with no endorsements at all,” Depew said. “The American Dream can always be there as long as you chase it.”
The 17-year-old said that he does not think that his support for such Republican figures will affect his campaign.
“I think people in Edgewater understand that there just needs to be a change, a strong change,” Depew said. “If you know me, you know I’m open to both sides of things and to always see in the middle.”
Hope to get more young people into politics
Depew said he intends to run a grassroots campaign.
“I’m just going to talk to every citizen I possibly can, I’m going to knock on every single door I possibly can,” he said. “The citizens have luckily brought forward issues to me. I’ve been talking to them about it for four years now, and it’s been great.”
In a Facebook post in January announcing he would be on the ballot, Depew listed some of these issues that will be part of his campaign, including “lower utility bill prices,” “less corporate development,” “solve speeding problems in Edgewater,” “Clean and protect the Indian River Lagoon,” and others.
Depew has been preregistered to vote since he turned 16, which is not only what allowed him to file his documents to run later this year, but something he encourages other people his age to do as well.
He said he wishes there were more young candidates like himself involved in politics and in their own communities.
“It is so important to have a candidate who is so driven to get young people out there and interested in politics,” he said. “But so far there hasn’t been very many candidates who have done so.”
He said that he plans on taking on initiatives to make politics a bigger part of student life at local schools, so students can learn more and hopefully invest themselves in political life.
“It’s my generation who will inherit the issues of this generation,” he said. “And if my generation does not get involved on a citywide level, a national level, it will continue to have these issues.”
He plans to go to Daytona State College part-time for two years and then possibly transfer to another school to pursue a political science major. But Depew said that education is not always everything.
“We have people who are well-educated who truly do not care about public office,” he said. “Education is a big factor, but it’s not everything.”
Depew said this is a career he envisions himself in for “as long as I possibly can.” He plans to serve full-time as Edgewater mayor if elected.
“I’d like to be president one day,” he said. “I just love helping people.”
Besides Depew, only former Edgewater mayor Mike Ignasiak is registered as a candidate in the mayoral race so far. The News-Journal reached out to Ignasiak for comment but has not heard back.
Edgewater mayor, Michael Thomas, declined a request for comment.
The municipal election in Edgewater is scheduled for Nov. 8.