Bunnell Mayor Robinson Again Re-Elected Unopposed; 3 Vie for 2 Commission Seats
FlaglerLive | January 14, 2016
Expect few electoral changes this year in Bunnell.
As the qualifying period to run for mayor and city commission in the March 15 election closed, Mayor Catherine Robinson drew no opposition, so she was reelected just as she has been every time she’s run in the last two decades. She was first appointed to the commission in 1994, and has been unopposed in three straight contests. The last time she faced opposition was in 2008, when she defeated Randall Morris with 63 percent of the vote. She could not be reached today.
Two city commission seats are up: those of Elbert Tucker and Bill Baxley. Both have qualified for the March election through petitions. Tucker was first elected in 2008, Baxley in 2013. But they will face one challenger: Jan Reeger, the Bunnell Realtor, who ran for the county commission in 2008 and currently serves on Bunnell’s Planning and Zoning Board. Reeger qualified by paying the $256 qualifying fee.
Bunnell’s elections are such that whoever gets the most votes is elected. In this case, the top two vote-getters will be elected.
“I’ve been threatening for years to do it,” Reeger said. What finally decided her was the demolition of a historic house just after Christmas on Moody Boulevard, which she opposed. “Facebook lit up with the demolition of the house on Moody. I’ve been doing a lot of things in this county, spending a lot of time on the CRA and other issues, haven’t been able to accomplish a whole lot, so I thought if I got elected to the commission maybe I could accomplish a lot more.”
Asked to evaluate the current city commission, Reeger said: “It’s like any situation, there are some good things and some not so good thing. We’re pretty warm and fuzzy around here so we’ve had a lot of agree to disagree. I’d like to see if we could be a little bit more business friendly, a little bit more economic development, I’d like to do something on historic homes.” She was reluctant to speak critically of the commission, but pressed on what she found to be “some not so good things,” she cited the commission giving up on Bunnell’s Community Redevelopment Agency (on whose board Reeger served), the enterprise zone that was designed to redevelop downtown. She also cited the commission’s handling of the dismissal of former city manager Armando Martinez more than two years ago.Reeger, 68, is a native of southern Illinois who moved to Florida in 1972 and has lived in Flagler since 2002, the last 12 years in Bunnell. “And I love it, it’s quaint and friendly, you know people. I love it.”
Tucker, who owns an insurance business in Bunnell, had previously said that his current term would be his last. But he changed his mind last year. Now he is pledging that this will be it. “I promise this is going to be the last time,” Tucker said Thursday. “Somebody else needs to take a hold of it.”
Tucker is satisfied with the direction of the city. But he wants to ensure that the city keeps its course.
“I’m not running against anybody, I’m running for me,” he said, citing his fiscally conservative approach and the tenure of former City Manager Larry Williams, which ended in December, as an example of his philosophy in action. Williams restored the city’s finances, erasing debt and streamlining government departments, and creating new boards such as the city’s parks and recreation panel.
“We are more solvent and hopefully things will keep in that direction,” Tucker said.
Tucker in his first and second term was notoriously in the minority, often at the losing end of 4-1 votes. That changed in 2012 and 2013, when John Rogers, then Baxley, were elected, shifting power his way. Though he has on occasion clashed with the mayor—but more so in the earlier part of his tenure—he has generally had a working relationship with Robinson, and spoke well of her mayorship. “Sure,” Tucker said, “She runs a good meeting.”