- 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: Teaneck, NJ
- Political party: Republican
- Current occupation: Commercial Real Estate, Associate Broker
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 Tennis Center initiative has been voted and approved by a past City Council. The majority vote indicates a collaboration and consensus developed through workshop(s), council discussion, staff presentation. Any discussion regarding revision of previously passed initiatives should begin with the city attorney to understand legal and financial liability associated with change. The Council should only consider change when the majority of residents favor revision understanding related liabilities and costs.”
-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?
“The City of Palm Coast was incorporated in 1999 with a significant portion of infrastructure constructed well before the date of incorporation. All infrastructure components suffer effects of time including repair, obsolescence, code change, wear, and tear, etc. Twenty plus years is considered a benchmark for some component lifetimes. Stormwater ‘swale’ mitigation, road and right of-way repair, and utility updates necessitated by growth are priority budget issues. Prioritizing economic development to identify, locate, and facilitate smart commercial growth in properly zoned areas will generate impact fees for new infrastructure and add tax revenue for maintenance of existing infrastructure.”
-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?
“The City Charter does not describe or include any form or format for national political discourse. The City Council is responsible to conduct municipal government, perform municipal functions, and render municipal services.”
-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?
“My goals include ensuring our quality of life is protected through public safety, a strong economy and smart managed growth. I support collaboration with council members to reach consensus on community driven initiatives that support those goals.”
-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?
“I will review the published survey results and support the largest resident majority identified by survey.”
-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?
In his answer, Alfin cited the Palm Coast City Charter, Article IV (4.) (a.-b.):
‘Powers and duties of the Mayor. Powers. In addition to the regular powers invested in any other Council member, the Mayor shall: be recognized by the governor for purposes of military law; have the power to declare an emergency situation; have the power for service of process, and execution of contracts, deeds and other documents; have the power to represent the City in all agreements with other governmental entities or certifications to other governmental entities that the Council has approved. Duties. In addition to the Mayor’s regular duties, the Mayor shall: preside at meetings of the Council and be recognized as the head of City government for all ceremonial occasions. The Mayor shall have no administrative duties other than those necessary to accomplish these actions, or such other actions as may be authorized by the City Council, consistent with general or special law.’
“The mayor may not direct or exercise authority over administrative staff. All direction and authority must be communicated to and through the city manager. Respect and adherence to the City Charter is integral to the proper performance of city government. The City Charter is approved by residents and must be obeyed as written until amendments or changes are enacted by public forum and resident vote.”
-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?
“The City Council can be effective in addressing the concerns of residents by collaborating to form consensus and offering solutions that satisfy residents while unifying the voice of City Council. A majority vote by Council members will earn resident confidence.”
-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)
“Impact fees should be reviewed on a regular basis. Accelerated growth may change prior assumptions used to calculate impact fees and should be reviewed in terms of dynamic relevancy.”
-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 support collaboration and consensus leading to community confidence. The City Council does not project confidence through failed motions and votes.”
How has your experience in realty shaped your stances on housing development in Palm Coast?
“I have studied commercial and residential real estate in Palm Coast for many years. I have gained expertise in the Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map. My experience has offered me the opportunity to meet and work with thousands of new and existing residents. My thoughts are shaped by the wide range of opinions expressed by the residents of Palm Coast.”
How would you respond to voters who think you’d be a continuation of the fiscal policy of the Milissa Holland mayorship, either as a positive or a negative?
“The former mayor is not relevant to my campaign or my success when elected. I think my opponents have cast a false label to mislead voters and create a ‘fake news’ scenario.”
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.