Patti King is the mayor-elect of Flagler Beach, having been the only candidate to file before the deadline. She will be entering her first term as mayor, taking the seat from an outgoing Suzie Johnston. Though King will not appear on the ballot and thus will not need to do any campaigning, she accepted an invitation to complete AskFlagler’s interview questions nonetheless. A City Commission election will be held between incumbent Eric Cooley and challenger Bob Cunningham III.
This is the second in a series of interviews conducted with Cooley, Cunningham, and King. The City Commission election is March 19th.
- The object of the interview is not to grill the candidate, nor to give them softballs. Ideally, in their answers the candidates provide to voters a useful insight into their ideology, their priorities, and their knowledgeability and preparedness for office.
- These questions are sent to each declared candidate in the Flagler Beach city elections. Each candidate receives the same exact questions.
- The only edits made are for spelling, formatting and basic grammar (i.e., ‘their’ when it should be ‘there’). Censorship of profanity may also be applied if it were applicable. Otherwise, answers are presented in their full form as the candidate provides them.
- Answers are subject to fact-checking if they contain information that’s blatantly misleading or untrue (misrepresenting factually verifiable information, misquoting a statistic, etc). Clarifications will be added underneath the candidate’s answer if applicable. The answers will still be presented as given even if a fact-check or clarification is needed.
1. In your opinion, have the City Commission and city staff done an adequate job ensuring the construction of the Compass Hotel has minimal negative impact on residents and businesses? Why or why not?
“I believe that all, the owner, the developer & City staff have gone above and beyond to provide minimal intrusion upon residents, businesses & visitors daily lives regarding the Margaritaville Compass hotel construction. They are doing major work such as concrete pours which could have major interruptions, during the night or very early morning hours, before the general public is up and out. The businesses I have frequented along S 2nd Street during this time have been very busy and well attended. Speaking on behalf of the Flagler Beach Historical Museum, although finding parking at times can be a source of frustration, we are seeing visitor numbers in the usual range for this time of year.”
2. The Flagler Beach city government will be subsidizing up to $30,000 in operating costs for First Friday. What do you think about the city’s increased financial commitment to the monthly event?
“I am very happy to see the city be supportive of our local businesses during this challenging time. By offering a subsidy to our local businesses to participate in First Friday celebrations, hopefully local businesses will attend First Fridays and use this ‘free’ or subsidized marketing to help visitors learn about their businesses and where they can be found within our city.”
3. With the information you know now, provide your evaluation of three key city leaders: City Manager Dale Martin, Police Chief Matt Doughney, and Fire Chief Bobby Pace. If you have any criticisms, explain why.
“City Manager Dale Martin is relatively new to our city. I feel that he is a very welcome new face with great ideas and a proven track record from Northern Florida. He is familiar with many of the challenges we face as a small city on the Atlantic coast surrounded by not only the Atlantic Ocean but also the AICW.
“I consider Chief Matt Doughney a friend, but beyond that I consider him a very respectable member of our community. He has a very capable and caring squad of officers and staff who embody his beliefs in our small but wonderful city. Chief Bobby Pace of our FB Fire Department is a relatively new acquaintance of mine.
“As with Chief Doughney, Chief Pace has a capable and amenable squad of men and women who are always willing to protect and serve our community. I look forward to working with all three of these men for the betterment of our city.”
4. Multiple large construction projects that are either underway now or slated for the near future are likely to affect the city’s roadways. In the event a major storm impacts Flagler Beach while one or more major roads are closed, what can the city do to help ensure a safe and speedy evacuation?
“First, please let’s hope and pray that we are spared any major acts of God or Mother Nature. With this being said, we always need to be prepared for what may come our way. If a major occurrence should happen during this challenging time for the City of Flagler Beach, I trust CM Martin along with Chiefs Doughney and Pace to have sufficient plans in place that will protect our citizens both residents, business owners and visitors.
“FBPD already has a great presence on Facebook with a tremendous following, the City of Flagler Beach is currently working on creating its own Facebook page which will share pertinent information in a very timely manner. As this informational portal is developed and becomes available, it will be very important that all of our citizens follow these pages and know to look to our city website for the most up to date instructions and knowledge should we be faced with any difficult scenario.”
5. Describe your vision for the role the City of Flagler Beach plays in maintaining the environment within city limits. Are there any new initiatives you’d like to see considered?
“Our city represents an outdoor way of life, be it enjoying the beach and surf, or fishing, kayaking, boating etc. on the Intracoastal Waterway. Our city is great for biking, walking and generally living a fit outdoor lifestyle. To maintain our environment, we need to complete what has already been proposed and or started by taking care of our parks and recreational areas, cleaning them up and being assured that they are safe for all to use and enjoy. There are new additions that are being discussed such as SunTrail, which will be a welcome addition to not only our City but our entire region.”
6. How do you see the current population growth that’s going on in Palm Coast affecting Flagler Beach in the long term? What should Flagler Beach do to prepare for the residency boom of a city that often claims access to Flagler Beach as one of its key amenities?
“The current population growth in our entire county affects all of us, not only Flagler Beach. Our current county infrastructure (roads schools etc) is struggling to keep up, this needs to be addressed and controlled by our County Commissioners. I am thrilled that current Flagler Beach Commissioners have started a Joint Cities Commission, which includes all locales along with the County to have open and honest conversations about how we can ALL work together for the good of not only our beaches but for the entire county.
Yes, we are most challenged by the boom in residents who visit our beaches because this is what most impacts our daily way of life, be it trash left behind, lack of care of our fragile dunes or our parking situation. While I do not have any specific fix that will miraculously address everything, I am willing to listen to any and all ideas that have the potential to create a better way of daily life for all of us.”
7. Public outreach is a constant and evolving priority for the City of Flagler Beach. What’s your evaluation of the city’s effectiveness at communicating with residents? Do you have any ideas to improve the process?
“As a long time resident, I have not been thrilled by the lack of communications within our city. I applaud our FBPD for their continuous efforts in communications with our citizens, I feel this endeavor should fall on the city and not just one division of our city. I can recall discussions over the years about how to make our city website more user friendly and easier to navigate to find the pertinent information one is seeking. I have faith that our new City Manager will make this an item of importance; the distribution of information to our residents. I know that we have numerous different generations and not one source of data distribution fits all, so I am hopeful that we as a city can create and maintain a user friendly website that all can use and locate easily what they seek, while establishing a fail-proof system of sharing information with ALL residents, businesses and tourists.”