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.
Questions are sent to each declared candidate in the 2022 races for School Board, County Commission, and Palm Coast City Council. Each candidate receives the same exact questions as the other candidates for the same office.
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 to become 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.
Some of these questions were contributed by constituents whom candidates would serve if elected later this year.
Other Candidate Interviews
-Order these three groups according to how strongly you feel a School Board member is tasked with serving them: students, teachers, and parents.
“Our job is to provide the best education in the safest environment possible for our students. We want the best educators for that task and we want to pay them as much as possible. We want to have parental cooperation and input. Lastly, we want to fulfill our duty to our tax payers.”
-Detail your professional or volunteer experience in the field of education.
“It’s a misnomer that Small Business people aren’t educators. We have to educate constantly: educate customers, train employees, etc. A small business owner is constantly learning. My parents were teachers and coaches. My wife, of over 20 years, is a teacher and coach. I have nearly 20 years of volunteer coaching experience at local schools in the sport of wrestling.”
-Is it necessary to address the teaching of race issues in Flagler County? If so, how?
“We should absolutely be teaching controversial topics, such as “racism” in our schools. However, it needs to be taught correctly and in context. That context also needs to be historically accurate. I, truly, think high school is the most age appropriate time for these topics, but there should never just be a lesson that is purely about these concepts. There has to be some sort of context to having it in the curriculum.”
-The Parental Rights in Education law was recently passed in Florida. With it in mind, what is the ethical and/or lawful way for educators to handle the issue if kids have questions about same-sex couples or about gender identity?
“I think controversial topics do belong in school, but I also believe, 100%, that it is the right of every parent to decide when it’s appropriate for a school curriculum to include those controversial topics. I have serious concerns about topics, such as, sex and sexual orientation lessons being delivered to elementary aged children. I flat out believe that is wrong. High school would be way more appropriate.
“At the same time, the parent needs the power to decide what is right for their child. A lesson plan that includes ‘sex’ as a topic, in anyway, should require a parental consent form. If a parent doesn’t wish their child to take part in that activity, I think it’s completely fair. We are here to educate kids, it’s not the job of the school district to shape their social/political thoughts.”
-What does the phrase ‘parental rights’ mean to you? How would you handle a situation where the consensuses of parents and teachers conflict?
“The concept of “Parental Rights” is one that allows parents a right to be involved in the education of their child. The School Board does not get involved in the day to day operations of the school district. This would be handled by the administrators of the school.”
-In 2022, a student activist was suspended for school for distributing Pride flags against the school’s warning, at a protest he’d organized with cooperation from the school. Did the school administration handle its discipline of this student correctly? Why or why not?
“As a school board member we are not involved in the day to day operations of the Schools or the School District. This is under the direction of the Superintendent and Administration. The Administration made their decision about the discipline of this student’s actions.”
-How high of a priority is it for you to push Flagler Schools to receive A grades from the Education Department? What are some specific steps you’d take to achieve this goal?
“It’s incredibly important. Our goal should be to be, not only, an “A School District”, but a Top 10 School District in the state of Florida. I’d like to see us raise our literacy scores in 3rd grade. To do this we have to effectively teach literacy in our VPKs. I think it would help greatly to have more certified teachers in that area.”
-School shootings are a relatively common occurrence in America, from Parkland to Uvalde to Sandy Hook. Are there any measures you’d like to see put in place in Flagler Schools to protect against a school shooting?
“As a candidate, I am not privy to the security details and procedures of the School District and rightly so. While in Afghanistan, I was responsible for off base construction of compounds and their security, judicial compound security and airport security. Designing and providing security is a strength of mine and I think would benefit our school district.”
-Lastly, give a broad campaign pitch to those who are still undecided.
“I grew up in Palatka, FL not very far from Flagler county. The only two things at Flagler Beach was Frieda Zamba’s surf shop and Martins. I’ve seen where we started, where we are and where we’re headed.
“My father was a legendary school teacher and coach for 37 years. My mother is also a retired guidance counselor, teacher and coach.
“My wonderful wife, of 20+ years, is a teacher and girls’ golf coach at Matanzas High School (recently named teacher of the month). I have two teenage daughters that are great student-athletes who are currently in the Flagler County school system at Indian Trails Middle and Matanzas High.
“I have been a small business owner for over 20 years. I spent 3 years in Afghanistan, working for the DoD (as a contractor) overseeing off base construction projects working with many US government entities, different governments and militaries.
“The School Board is not only a service position, it’s a leadership position. It is all of these experiences that, I believe, make me uniquely suited for our School Board. I’ve run successful businesses, I understand the challenges of managing employees and have successfully accomplished difficult tasks and missions in challenging environments.”