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Defying Polls and Tea Leaves, Jon Netts Is Re-Elected Palm Coast Mayor

| September 13, 2011

Jon Netts and his wife Priscilla this afternoon at their home, a few hours before Netts was re-elected mayor.
(© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 8:45 p.m.

It was almost 4 o’clock this afternoon. Mayor Jon Netts was reclining in his living room. His 15-year-old cat, Pooh, was dozing, to the extent that Netts’ animated voice allowed dozing, on the couch next to Netts’s wife, Priscilla, who’d seen all the polls, heard all the dire predictions, and was just then hearing criticism—in her own home, by an invited reporter—of her husband not campaigning.

He’ll be keeping the job, Priscilla Netts said, when her husband was talking a call. “I think he can. I think he will. I do,” she said, with the sort of assertive calm familiar to people who’ve seen her husband in action, in the face of everyone else’s roils. “He’s too good. He’s too good at it.”

She was right.

Netts pulled off the eighth election victory of his career in eight tries, beating back a challenge by Charlie Ericksen, the 68-year-old conservative insurgent who’s never held office before and about whom few people outside the rarefied circles of government meetings had heard of until this year. Netts won with 54 percent of the vote to Ericksen’s 41 percent.

Netts got 2,848 votes to Ericksen’s 2,145. Those numbers include early voting, absentee voting and today’s balloting.

Since Netts got more than 50 percent of the vote, today’s primary was, in effect, the general election: there won’t be a run-off in November, when only two other council races will be contested.

The third candidate on the ballot for mayor, Joe Cunnane, got 5 percent, or 196 votes.

Voters also overwhelmingly agreed to move Palm Coast’s elections to even years, to coincide with federal elections and save money. That referendum passed with 87 percent of the vote (4,423 for, 687 against; Netts had opposed the change saying it would diminish the prominence of Palm Coast’s municipal elections by bunching them up with a slew of others).

Turnout was a dismal 10.6 percent, even by Palm Coast standards: the 2007 mayoral primary election had drawn 16 percent of registered voters.

“If the results of my being in office are not the prima facie case for voting for me, then don’t vote for me. I am what I am, I’ve done what I’ve done, I’ve created what I’ve created, I’ve supported what I’ve supported, I’ve perpetuated what I’ve perpetuated. If that’s not good enough for you, then don’t vote for me. Vote for somebody else. You get the government you deserve. You get the government you vote for. The unfortunate thing is that I am not sure that Mr. Ericksen has clearly articulated what he wants to do. He’s talking about a new direction. Well, what is that new direction?”

Charlie Ericksen. (© FlaglerLive)

As it turned out, voters may have been asking the same question even as Ericksen powered through the last two weeks with a daily presence at the one early voting site in Palm Coast–at the Flagler County Public Library. Netts, in contrast, declined to campaign there, other than with signs. He limited his campaign appearances to forums, a setting where he excels, and to social and cultural clubs, where he has a large following.

“I think we picked up probably four to five to six hundred votes just finding people that had not made up their mind when they reached this location—during early voting and today,” Ericksen said, standing at the library again a few hours before polls closed Tuesday afternoon. With him today were his wife Shirley and his son, Robert, from Kissimmee. He had volunteers at other polling locations (there were six voting locations in all), holding up signs and handing out cards and suggestions on how to vote, often to people who had no idea an election was going on. Ericksen signs also seemed to outnumber Netts signs at polling locations.

“We asked people, are you here to vote or for the library?” Ericksen said. “And if they said we’re here for the library, we would say, you can get voting out of the way at the same time, and their response was, well, what are we voting on? And that gave us an opportunity to tell a brief part of our story. I spent eight hours a day here, jumping between this location and the other location just meeting people, and I think that was a real plus, because you had a real candidate you could show them as opposed to an article in The Observer.”

Pooh. Click on the cat for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Netts spent Tuesday morning at the city council, chairing a workshop, had lunch with friends, spent part of the afternoon at his house with his wife, and planned to have an early dinner at European Village before returning home. No campaigning planned, no brandishing of signs—by him or by volunteers.

A sign of his enduring fortune came a little after 7 p.m. when the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections posted early voting results, based on 1,708 votes cast in the two weeks preceding today’s primary. Netts won that round with what proved to be the same numbers as the rest of the balloting: 54 percent of the vote to Ericksen’s 41 percent. Cunnane won 5 percent.

“I will continue to pursue the vision that city council has articulated,” Netts said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. You have the challenge of trying to protect, preserve the infrastructure, maintain the infrastructure, trying to keep taxes as low as possible, trying to do what little we can do locally to try to rejuvenate the economy though I refuse to take responsibility for that, and moving Palm Coast forward toward the vision that we have all adopted.”

“After all is said and done,” he continued, “people see this as a great place to live, work and play. This is their home, don’t dirty your home. Maintain it, keep it nice, protect your property. I think many people, I hope most people, have a strong attachment to Palm Coast. This is not just where we’re living at the moment. This is where we live. So I would interpret a win as supportive of that notion.”

Ericksen, his son Robert said earlier today, is unlikely to disappear even after the loss, or to take the loss personally. “If he does take anything personally, I think that reflection would be very short-lived,” Robert Ericksen said. “I see him moving forward. If today does not go his way, if we have to go to November and November doesn’t go his way, you’ll still hear his voice, he will keep on keeping on. You’re going to hear Charlie Ericksen after today no matter what.”

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38 Responses for “Defying Polls and Tea Leaves, Jon Netts Is Re-Elected Palm Coast Mayor”

  1. jc says:

    So much for the tea party and the poles!

  2. Maya says:

    Don’t expect any change from a failing county. More medians to be redone every month and kids walking from five miles away to school.

    Probably moving from this county soon as I don’t foresee anything to be different.

  3. says:

    mr ericksen stated that we do not need that much code enforcement , well mr ericksen take a drive through plainview dr. and let me know what you think , would you want all those duplexes next to you with renters not caring about the property. i am happy you did not get in because you do not know one quarter of mayor netts know

  4. Rob says:

    It is very hard to believe the results in light of the direction that this city is headed.
    This city is not showing signs of progress.
    The tax rate has gone up the last two years and the citizens are placated by being told your taxes won’t increase because values have gone down. What happens when values begin to go up?

    This group headed by Jon Netts tried to give the citizens a snow job with the city hall sham. No doubt they will find a way to ram it through.
    They paid twice the value for property on Bull Dog Drive and are now in a protracted case with the last property owner who they wanted to short after the other parcels were bought at inflated values.
    There is the Old Kings Road construction which was based on a “promise” from Walmart.
    Etc, Etc. ….

    The over paid city manager is probably relieved since Jon Netts is his cheer leader.

    No one will mistake the voters in Palm Coast Florida of being the sharpest tools on the work bench…

    They, as a group, are more than likely the same ones who voted for Rick Scott.

  5. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    I don’t know why Erickson has continued to be labeled the “tea party” candidate, or the “conservative” candidate, his responses to the questions by flaglerlive showed this plain as the light of day. Conservative/Tea Party values don’t support the city government determining how private property owners can develop their land and Conservative/Tea Party values don’t support the city government determining what businesses can open based on the potential effect on other businesses.

    The cynic in me would venture to guess the “tea party / conservative” label was crowned by the publisher of this site for the sole purpose of being able to write this article and future ones under the premise that the tea party’s influence is somehow weaning…

  6. Ralph Belcher says:

    Maya, The (/any) City Mayor has nothing to do with school children walking “5” miles to school. Refer to our school board, and the State Board of Education.

  7. G Joseph says:

    Why is it so hard to believe that someone with extensive knowledge of local municipal workings won this election?

    Mayor Netts was the best candidate on the ballot…..maybe they’ll be another candidate in 4 years but I’m glad Mayor Netts won!

  8. PJ says:

    How can this be? Did the people really speak.The voteswere still close. Now, Several more years of the same. It is just sick. Don’t these people in the City realize that Netts is a puppet for Landon. The elected officials will never be allowed to make a decision or to really run the City. Now with the re-election of Netts it’s ugly non-transparent government. that continues to operate.

    Well nice job Mr. Ericksen!

    Mr. Netts get up, stand up and don’t be a puppet. landon needs to save some mone for the city by reducing his overinflated contract. Let’s see you Mr. Netts really be the peoples Mayor. Good luck please do your best.

  9. Jack Howell says:

    The sad thing about the election is voter apathy. Regardless of the candidates voting is your time to make a choice…a difference. When you look at the number of citizens in Palm Coast and look at the total numbers who voted, it shows the laiziness of our society. Voting is a right granted to us by the Constitution. Many Americans have died or have been wounded in action to protect this right. It appears that the majority of our city could care less about their civic responsibilities. I would tell those who did not vote to keep their mouths shut if they don’t like the direction of the city council. You did not vote, you are not entitled to a say! Shame on you all!

    Congratulations Mr. Netts for your win. Congratulations Mr. Ericksen for the effort you put forth, your honesty and candor.

  10. Are you kidding me? says:

    Are you kidding me. I don’t get that rag of a newspaper so I guess I didn’t know WHEN the vote was. How dare the “Mayor” do this to us here in Palm Coast. Thief in the night is what we should call him.

  11. Layla says:

    Welcome to Palm Coast, city of failed shopping malls, small business closings, miles of empty office space, empty neighborhoods, lifetime politicians. Netts will serve 16 years total on the council before his next election. The builders will be happy, the chamber will be happy, the over paid manager will be happy, the developers are ecstatic.

    Very sad that just 10 percent have decided the direction in which this city is to go. This is why your country is slidding downhill, people. You’re too damned lazy to even show up to vote.

    How soon before we see the new City Hall back on the agenda? You know, the one they had the money for and told us so, before they told us they didn’t, that we misunderstood and that Netts was now “listening to the taxpayers.”

    Hang on to your wallets, it’s going to get ugly. Between Netts, the manager and Enterprise Flagler, we are all at their mercy.

  12. Jon Hardison says:

    It’s not possible for Jon Netts to change the vast majority of what’s being complained about, and attending one meeting would clarify many of the misunderstandings folks seem to have. That said, the man is the best qualified for the job. Congrats to you for a other victory sir.

    And no. I DIDN’T help put Scott in. Lol. But Palm Coast isn’t your average municipal government.

  13. The Geode says:

    This election is a microcosm of the Nation as a whole. Three things were established:
    1. Voters don’t really care. A lot of hope with little effort.
    2. Tea-baggers don’t have as much steam as they want you you to believe
    3. Polls (poles) are for strippers and fishermen.

  14. Yogi says:

    The Mayor’s cronies are better at beating the bushes to get the vote out than the other guy. 35% of the tea party poll went for the Mayor and 59% went for the other guy. What that does say is this, 35% of those who participate in the tea party were convinced the Mayor was a better choice than the other guy. The other 59% were not. There never was a clear distinction of political philosophies between the two candidates for this election. The mayor should be feeling good, his people still believe in him. I don’t. Flapping lips cause a hot wet breeze. Actions and results speak louder than words. Local government is the largest employer in Flagler county and they all just got more of your money out of your pocket. The tea party better learn from this lesson. Learn how to get the voters off their duffs and down to the polls the next time.

  15. Nick D says:

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Albert Einstein

    Stupidity is electing the same people over and over again and expecting our lives to change for the better.

    The “thought” of moving has been in my mind for a while. However, I think it has just been given a shove into a “serious consideration.”

    I sure hope that our county elections go better next year!

  16. Michael says:

    If you’re interested in local politics enough to care about this, you should have known there was an election going on. If you’re only interested enough to care after the fact, you shouldn’t talk.

    Also, I find it very hard to believe that the “same” people who voted for a moderate Democrat mayor (over a tea party candidate no less) were the same people who voted for Governor Scott…that is just asinine.

  17. Ky says:

    In this race, totally the most qualified and experienced candidate won. Mayor Netts is in a position of knowledge, experience, maturity, and reality; I’m confident this will be his legacy term.

    Having said that, no mayor or city councilperson can single-handedly change the direction the country has been in economically since 2006. Criticism and complaining are easy. JFK’s inspirational quote still holds true today, yes, even at the City level: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

    On a separate note, I would like to see Jason DeLorenzo in the City Council, and truly hope that he wins the November elections. That will bring new and young blood to what is otherwise a very qualified and stable City Council.

  18. Nick D says:

    I don’t think I have ever been more disgusted with so many people at the same time; 69,991 people to be exact. In my opinion there are only 5,189 residents of Palm Coast that have the right to complain about the way our city is being run. The rest of you can shut the hell up and sit down; YOU DID NOT VOTE!

    A voter turnout of only 6.9%…how sad…very discouraging…

    I’m not sure I want to live in a city where 93.1% of its residents don’t seem to give a damn about our collective future.

  19. Anon says:

    @ Michael
    What is really asinine is misinformed people making erroneous statements not supported by any facts, and those who cast votes based on misinformation and their lack of knowledge of the subject matter That is not only asinine but dangerous.

    Take a moment and read Flaglerlive September 13, 2011, Jon Netts: The Live Interview.
    Candidate Basics
    Party affiliation: This is a non-partisan election. I am a registered Republican.

    Next, in order to dispel any rumor regarding Mr. Ericksen’s association with the Tea Party I asked him directly, one on one, eye ball to eye ball, if he was a member of the Tea Party. His answer was sufficient and allowed me to vote for him because I would not vote for anyone associated with that group no matter what their credentials.

    I am not sure which is worse, those who don’t vote or those who vote on misconceptions.

    Nick D pretty much summed it up, if I may paraphrase, if you keep doing the same thing you cannot expect different results.

    Or if you are a golfer here’s another analogy. If your putt is always short you will miss it 100% of the time.

  20. Dan Bozza says:

    All I can say is that their better be a whole lot more people voting for new faces for the City Council offices in November so we get some balance or we’re going to get a whole lot more NO Bids on $7.5 million garbage collection contracts, more total confusion and reversals on things like the city redistricting plan, more direct interference with contractors such as the landscaping on the N Belle Terre construction project, in total violation of the city manager’s responsibility and AUTHORITY, more buying expensive electronic devises for all city council members again in direct violation of the city manager’s responsibility AND AUTHORITY simply because he thought everyone should have them and we will continue to see more magic tricks like, now you see the $10,000,000.00 for a totally paid for new city hall and now you don’t, and then brazenly claim he never said that.

    Just wait and see what is in store for us when each of the three waste haulers comes in with a different plan and dollar figure because they were not given a specific plan to bid on. Each of them has been asked to provide their own plan and therefore differing costs which will be totally confusing and will not permit a clear cut evaluation and decision. This will allow enough “wiggle” room to select the most expensive OR the already preferred choice without really having any verifiable reason to do so! What a scam!

    There is incontrovertible documentation that it was clearly said with pretty multi-color charts to back it all up at every public dog and pony show held to push this personal agenda forward! Is this man crazy or does he just think that all of us are?

    Why is everything our City Manager involved in so divisive to this city? He should be bringing us together in consensus. And far more importantly, why does it continue to be supported by our mayor and council?

  21. Layla says:

    Legacy term? Is that what Netts is concerned about here? His legacy? Well, then THAT explains it…

    You must be in the Tea Party. They are supporting the chief lobbyist for the builder’s in that council race coming up. They want to put a lobbyist in that council. PERFECT. What else could go wrong around here….

  22. BW says:

    No one expected a large turnout for this election. In 2008 82% voted in the General Election and 52% voted in the 2010 General election. You are going to get a small turnout for a local ‘primary’ election that due to local laws does not require another vote because of the percentages.

    What is interesting to me is that the local Tea Party would seemingly be the biggest voting block in that 5% and had taken a straw poll that indicated support for Erickson, but that wasn’t the case in the actual voting.

    Regardless, the voters got it right. No offense to Mr. Erickson, but he lacks the experience. I think he would be better off and better for the area to run for a Council Seat and get that experience before trying to sit in the Mayor seat. I personally like Mayor Netts and think he’s done a great job.

    In terms of voting in general, this party idea is fading away in some respects. Older voters do not really understand this because they are not accustomed to that. And quite honestly if the GOP doesn’t get their act together and stop promoting such elitist and radical agendas, they will continue to have issues and lose again in 2012. If you look at the primary field for the GOP for the Presidential candidate, it’s sad. The outright lies and this notion that people are ignorant of the truth is old. Someone in that organization needs to put their foot down and say enough is enough. Maybe after they lose in 2012 candidates will run from this Tea Party junk and that out-of-touch group will get the message.

  23. truthseeker says:

    Dear Palm Coast,

    We would like to thank each and every registered voter who neglected to do his or her civic duty yesterday! It fills our hearts with pride knowing that each one of you trusted us to decide your municipal fate. You clearly made the right choice. On behalf of those 5,189 voters who cast a ballot, thank you so very much for letting us speak for you. God Bless the ignorant, uninformed, and lazy!


    The 2,848 Voters in the Majority

  24. Tea Party Supporter says:

    As a person who believes in smaller limited constitutionally based government, I support the ideals of the Tea Party Movement nationally. It is a grassroots movement of citizens concerned with the uncontrolled growth of government spending, taxation, and control over our lives. The local Tea Party leadership’s adherence to these principles is questionable.
    The local Tea Party was not backing Mr. Ericksen.
    I am hearing they are backing Jason DeLorenzo for council, chief lobbyist for the builders here in Palm Coast (a lobbyist for the builders on the council)? No conflict of interest there! No, not much…
    I have heard that Tom Lawrence is working to help elect him. If that’s true, this is a very odd Tea Party we have here in Palm Coast.
    For all we know, they were backing Netts.
    You need a score card to keep this stuff straight around here.

  25. J Jewels says:

    This is a sad day in Palm Coast, another 4 yrs backward.

  26. rdh says:

    G Joseph has it right.. I wonder how many of you even voted or attended a city counsel meeting.. You don’t know how you have it..

  27. palmcoaster says:

    rdh your candidate won….good for you and congratulations to Mayor Netts!
    Now because the one’s here not happy with Mayor Netts so far, express their concerns, do not mean they are not aware of the reality or never went to “council” meetings or did not vote. Wrong assumptions. Is the other way around !
    Now “probably” will come the resuscitation or sudden appearance of the 10 million for City Hall. Just guessing here and hope not in light of us all being near broke.
    The Coquina Desalt Plant never given up in spite we can’t afford it:
    Will be polluting our environment and increasing the price/gallon of our drinking water. One of the planned locations is in Roberts Road not that far from Plantation and Grand Haven.
    More approvals for new hundreds of condos or houses developments while thousands of foreclosed homes abandoned by our homeless families seat vacant and un cared for.
    Double and wider sidewalks for Town Center and other elite areas while others, home to families with children, have to do without any. Maybe the proceed still, with some outsourcing of tax payers generated contracts.
    In the other hand would be so rewarding that the re-elected Mayor Netts instead, will open his door to the 40% plus that did not vote for him (and I know will be not easy upsetting the local elite and powers that be) and change the way he navigates this big boat called Palm Coast. Then, other than avoiding our Mayor, we would all wave at him with a sincere and appreciative smile, as we cross ways around our city and water ways.

  28. Yogi says:

    39% voted for the Mayor in the Tea Party straw poll. That means 39% of the votes may or may not have actually gone out to garner votes for Netts. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Obviously 59% of those that voted for the other guy, didn’t see the need to go out and get votes for him and this surprised me. Low voter turnout should have favored the challenger. Those of you that want to wrestle power away from the establishment better understand they won’t give in easy. Sitting at home and hoping isn’t going to win elections. Tom Lawrence doesn’t give up his right as an individual to campaign for the candidate of his choice no matter who it is. I don’t see anything strange about the Tea Party……yet.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Maybe by November the voters that were sleeping this election will wake up. The ones that voted need to make wake-up calls!

  30. PJ says:

    The newly re-elected Mayor has not even been sworn in and there is still just as much confusion as there was before his re-election.

    Ok it goes like this who’s on first and Idunno “third base”…………………and so on. Oh yea Landon left field.

    Please help us! Washington are you listening!!!!

  31. Jack Howell says:

    Lets give Jon Netts his chance to do the right thing. He knows that there is a block of voters who are upset with the way the city council and city manager have conducted business. Backdoor policy prevailed. If we see the same old, same old then it is time for a RECALL! The hell with the tea party as they have proven themselves useless.

  32. Mona says:

    Mr. Howell, I like your posting. Just curious….can we recall him with the same percentage who elected him?

    I’m betting that City Hall is on his agenda. We need to find out why money was spent on architects, public meetings and then the Manager tells us we were mistaken, they never had the money.

    The Tea Party here is in the tank with the Chamber. Their leader used to be the Chamber head, I believe. You cannot trust their candidates. And sadly, the Palm Coast Chamber only helps the big spenders and not the little guys.

  33. Rob says:

    Miami Dade recalled their mayor this year.
    However, the recall effort was financed by Norman Braman, a very wealthy person.

    Unlike Miami, Palm Coast’s voters are largely apathetic. And not having gas money is not excuse not to vote as one poster claimed because absentee ballots are available.
    If only 10% voted in the primary it would be a stretch to get the required number of signatures to even get the recall effort to a ballot.

    Miami Dade was tired of tax increases and a publicly financed sports stadium for use by private enterprise.

    Well Palm Coast has seen its real estate tax rate increased, although the town council fuzzes up the issue by saying “but your tax bill won’t increase do to a lower real estate value”.
    And we still have that snake in the grass town hall issue.
    Jon Netts conveniently backed away from his sly approach to building a new city hall just prior to elections. Now the election is over observe how he will set his sail to tack his way back to his original plot.

    I voted but Charles Erickson would have needed over 400 more votes to reach the next election.

  34. palmcoaster says:

    Got that right Rob.
    Here is some proof of what Miami-Dade county tax payers are forced to foot for the greedy billionaires.:
    Daytona Beach tax payers foot the Nascar Speedway to fatten the France’s billionaires wallets.
    Also we foot the Halifax Hospital in Daytona, with its own tax district and now being investigated for tens of millions in Medicare fraud! This is the way many wealthy get richer. Sure no the honest way!
    Palm Coast tax payers until now fatten the wallets of some Developers (Ginn, Centex, Town Center) some Corporations like Palm Coast Data, Cakes Across and the wealthy fly boys at the airport.
    Grabbing our tax payers revenues is still one of the more sought ways to get richer by the greedy politician controlling elite.

  35. palmcoaster says:

    If the City Hall is revived as well as the costly Coquina Desalt Plant intent to proceed, then we should do the same:

  36. Mary says:

    Mayor Netts, are you listening?

  37. Tea Party Supporter says:

    Reply to Yogi: I agree that Tom Lawrence the individual can support whoever he chooses, but it is strange that the “leader” of the local Tea Party would openly support a paid lobbyist to the City Council for a seat on the City Council. I think Mr. Lawrence speaks with forked tongue (small limited national government but local government of the Chamber by the Chamber and for the Chamber). Anyone been by the Chamber Parking lot to see the magnetic signs on employee cars? Looks like DeLorenzo election HQ.

  38. Anonymous says:

    rewind to these comments! glad those days are over….

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