- 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 the office of Mayor.
- These questions are sent to each declared candidate in the Palm Coast mayoral race. Each candidate receives the same exact questions, with the exception of the two allotted personal questions, tailored to each candidate specifically.
- 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.
- Candidates may be sent follow-up questions if their initial answers don’t directly address the original question, or if their answer naturally opens the door to other questions.
- Answers will be published promptly after being submitted by the candidates, provided time to properly format and edit as outlined in the third bullet point.
- Original questions will be presented in bold text. Candidates’ answers will be presented “in quotations and italics”. Followup questions will be presented in bold and italics.
- Place and date of birth: Massachusetts
- Political party: This is an NPA office. On the national level, I am a registered Republican.
- Current occupation: Semi-retired, landlord and handyman.
Other Candidates’ Interviews
-On May 4th, the Palm Coast City Council voted 3-2 to approve a new regional racquet center at an estimated cost of approximately $5.4 million. In the buildup to, and the time since the vote, there has been a great deal of public debate regarding the merits of such a project. How would you have voted if you were mayor at the time? With two council members on each side of the issue, do you plan on revisiting the project acting as a deciding vote if elected to office?
“The pickle ball / racquet center has no business plan, no certified financial statement, no breakeven point identified, no return on investment identified and no maintenance cost predictions. How could I in good conscience approve this without any data? On day one I will make a motion to reconsider the project.”
-Describe the state of infrastructure in Palm Coast. Are there areas in the city you’ve identified as being in need of improvement? If so, how would you prioritize which areas you’d like to address, and what should be the source of funds for such improvements?
“Much of our infrastructure is the same as it was when I moved here 38 years ago. In order for infrastructure to stay in prime condition, it requires ongoing maintenance with a full staff. To identify a single issues would be to ignore others. We need staff to present a prioritized list of infrastructure conditions and needed improvements. Only then can we make educated decisions as to the direction to go. Funding sources are dependent upon the particular area of infrastructure in question. There are federal, state and grant dollars available for specific projects and those sources should be exhausted first BEFORE looking at tax revenue.”
-Whether it’s relevant or not, candidates’ views on national politics have played a role in discourse at the local level since the start of 2020’s election cycle. What role, if any, should your views on national politics play in how voters perceive you?
“Perhaps you answered this yourself as ‘party affiliation’ is your second candidate detail question. To be fair it is the number one first question I am asked on the thousands of doors I have knocked on.”
-In your mind, what is the most pressing issue facing residents of Palm Coast today? If elected to office, what are your plans to address that issue?
“Top priority at this point is finding a permanent city manager and the up coming budget meetings while continuing to focus on the needs of the residents. Fortunately I can give full time commitment to what is considered a part time job and have a proven history of doing just that. Let’s face it, I am the only candidate that has put in the time to attend all city council meetings and workshops to stay on top of the issues and therefore be able to properly balance budget requirements with resident desires. It will take unity on the council and with the public, dedication and strong leadership to move forward with a smooth transition and I am the person to accomplish this.”
-The Palm Coast government has begun taking residents’ opinions on whether or not to allow ONE commercial vehicle (passenger car, panel van, pickup truck or similar, in the words of the survey) with advertising markings to park in a residential driveway. If the matter came to a council vote, what would be your stance on the issue?
“If the majority of the people want to allow a larger area of signage without altering the ALREADY APPROVED vehicles types, then I would be in favor.”
-There’s been some discussion lately on what exactly the role of a Council member should be (Palm Coast’s Mayor is one of five votes on the City Council). Some would assert that a Council member should act as a direct representation of public consensus, while others view the seat as one in which the people have trusted them to make their own independent judgments. Which view is more representative of how you’d make decisions in Council votes?
“The city council and mayor are voted in to represent the people. You can not represent the people if you don’t go out into the crowd and hear what people are saying. Of course we have to add our own judgment but it needs to be inline with the laws, codes and with the public desire. Additionally I think it is important that people understand that the Mayor has no more voting power than any city council member, and that the elected body can not fire nor direct staff as that is the job of the city manager and the various department heads. I will bring unity back to the council by respecting all opinions and insist that whomever the new city manager may be, that they make the workplace one where staff will enjoy coming to work and thus better serve the people of Palm Coast.”
-Two roads in Palm Coast are currently drawing ire from some residents: Cimmaron Drive and Slow Way. Former City Manager Matt Morton and former Mayor Milissa Holland both attested that the city is working with FDOT to brainstorm an approach to deal with Cimmaron, while Slow Way hasn’t been the subject of particularly much deliberation in recent meetings. Complaints on both roads have largely centered around excessive traffic and safety concerns for pedestrians, cyclists, and children at play. Has the city been effective in its approach to issues on these two (considerably different) roads? How would you hope to proceed on addressing citizens’ concerns if elected to office?
“Actually there are several roads bring Citizen complaints and therefore the city hasn’t been effective or the issues would already be solved. First, I would not be in favor of rezoning commercial and mixed use property to other uses. I say this because the way to reduce stress on roads is to have the most commonly visited businesses models located throughout town (ie: pharmacies, grocery stores and the like) that can supply the public needs. This way all cars don’t have to travel one street to one centralized area to make their purchases.
“Thus, we can spread traffic out thereby reducing congestion and reduce fuel usage which is good for the environment. Actually, residents along Cimmaron Dr, Slow Way, Florida Park Dr, Bird of Paradise Dr, Blair Castle Dr. and other streets are all coming before the council for help and many feel it is falling on deaf ears. There is no one cure fits all but a listening and proactive city council can direct the city manager to find answers and set an actual hard date to implement them.”
-Palm Coast’s Municipal Code last saw an update to impact fees in October of 2004. Do you think the fees are due for an increase, to potentially increase revenue for the city? (Note: Palm Coast’s Regional Racquet Center was paid for primarily through revenue from impact fees)
“I have repeatedly stated that I would be in favor of a volunteer review committee to look at code and make suggestions to council which can then be prioritized and brought to the people for comment. As to impact fees, yes they should be studied for practical increases wherever legally possible to ensure infrastructure that is affected by population increase is paid for by those coming in and not supported 100% by those already here. After all isn’t that the purpose of impact fees?”
-On May 18th the Council convened for the first time after former Mayor Milissa Holland tendered her resignation. Among other things, one order of business was to replace Eddie Branquinho as Vice Mayor, as he’d immediately ascended to acting Mayor when Holland resigned. The motion to appoint Council member Nick Klufas to the position failed 2-2, with members Ed Danko and Victor Barbosa voting against. Klufas will, however, carry power comparable to that of the Vice Mayor by merit of being the Council’s most tenured member. Did the Council get the decision right in ultimately not appointing Klufas to Vice Mayor? How important is it that the Vice Mayor seat remain occupied?
“I don’t believe it was that important as Councilman Klufas by virtue of seniority is automatically in that position and when councilman Branquinho was absent proper function remained intact.”
In 2020, you lost the mayoral election by 5.1%, under 3,000 votes. How will the voters of Palm Coast see you differently eight months after your last election that will allow you to win this time around?
“The great people of Palm Coast now see that I am the only candidate that continued to go to every council meeting and council workshops. The People know and have seen that I interact with council at the podium and bring the voice of the people to the ears of our city leaders on a regular basis. People have seen that what I said I would do I have been doing. I didn’t just show up at city hall at election time for a photo op or only when issues before council may have affected me personally. I have won their trust and have pledged to continue to be available.”
Your new campaign has, for better or worse, resurfaced discussion about your political history. How has your outlook on political involvement evolved over the course of your life?
“I’m focused on issues relevant to today. While I believe that politics should focus on the needs of the community I have come to learn that some of my opponents are focused on dredging up old disproven false allegations in a pathetic attempt to sling political mud. I am the only candidate that has pledged not to raise taxes. On day one I will vote to revoke the 30 million dollar pickle ball fiasco! On my watch your garbage will be picked up on time or we will make other arrangements to ensure it is. I am a conservative voice for conservative folks.”
The special election for Palm Coast Mayor will be held on July 27th at the following locations:
- Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Office – Government Services Building, 1769 E. Moody Boulevard, Building 2, Suite 101, Bunnell, Florida, 32110
- Palm Coast Community Center, 305 Palm Coast Parkway NE, Palm Coast, Florida, 32137
- Flagler County Library, 2500 Palm Coast Parkway NW, Palm Coast, Florida, 32137
Early voting will take place from July 17th to July 24th, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The candidates are Democrats Doug Courtney and Cornelia Downing Manfre, along with Republicans David Alfin, Kathy Austrino, Carol “Mother Elizabeth” Bacha, and Alan Lowe. Check back on AskFlagler for interviews with other candidates as well as the most comprehensive election coverage in Palm Coast.