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Dennis McDonald, Who’s Twice Sued Palm Coast, Now Wants To Be Its Mayor

| June 20, 2016

dennis mcdonald palm coast city council elections 2016

Dennis McDonald has run in three previous elections, losing narrowly in two primaries for the county commission. (© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 6:22 p.m.

Dennis McDonald, a towering bane of county and city governments for his relentless criticism of both, a two-time litigant against Palm Coast and a three-time candidate for local office, has just made it four: earlier today McDonald filed to run for Palm Coast mayor, the seat Jon Netts is vacating because of term limits.


McDonald, 66, ran for the county commission in 2012 and 2014, losing narrowly both times in the Republican primary to Frank meeker (with 47 percent of the vote the first time, 48 percent the second time). He ran in the special state Senate election in 2015 to fill the seat vacated by John Thrasher, losing to Travis Hutson in the primary with just 15 percent of the Flagler vote, 13 percent district-wide.

McDonald  is the fifth candidate to file for the position, which pays less than $10,000 a year. He joins John Brady, a Democrat, and Republicans Milissa Holland, Ron Radford and Travis Kaufman in the race. Kaufman’s candidacy so far does not appear to be serious, and he has not yet formally qualified. Holland, Brady and Radford have done so by petition. McDonald will have to pay a $1,160 qualifying fee, since he did not gather the necessary petitions.

The election is ostensibly non-partisan, but candidates and the electorate generally are mindful of party affiliation. Just as McDonald was filing, three Democrats running for the three council seats were formalizing their run as well—Brady, Sims Jones, who’s running for the District 1 seat that Bill McGuire will not contest, and Anita Moeder, who’s running for the District 3 seat Jason DeLorenzo is ceding to run for the county commission. When the trio was filing its papers it had not yet been confirmed that McDonald had filed. Four candidates have filed for the District 1 seat, three for the District 3 seat. Those seats are all at-large, and all registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, may cast a ballot in the Aug. 30 primary.

In an interview this afternoon, McDonald, whose well-heeled method over the past few years has been to pick a target and clobber it, picked Holland. He said he decided to run after reading one of Holland’s campaign ads this weekend. “I forgot where I saw it, online some place,” McDonald said. “It popped up about experience and results, and you know, I thought to myself, gosh, I don’t understand how that could even be a consideration considering what her past history is, but in 2012 when she lost the election, I was kind of surprised first off that Milissa, her experience and her results, had been that–she jumped out of a seat that people elected her to for four years to run for higher office to benefit herself.” (Holland resigned the county commission seat she’d held six years to run for a Florida House seat after Flagler was redistricted in such a way as to give it its first chance to have its own representative in Tallahassee in 40 years. She lost by a small margin.)

Holland, in a second brief interview today, declined to respond to McDonald’s statement. She had initially been interviewed about McDonald joining the race, and before he returned FlaglerLive’s call.

Holland, considered the front-runner in the mayoral race—she is by far the better known and most experienced candidate, she is well-funded, and she has Netts’s endorsement—was not surprised by McDonald’s filing, though there’d been some question as to which office he would choose to run for. “I’m known to campaign very aggressively, I make sure that I’m trying to target every avenue possible to get my message out there, and I never discount anyone I’m running against,” Holland said. But as in previous runs, she said she intends to focus on her race and message rather than those of her opponents.

McDonald acknowledged that Holland is without question the front-runner, but that that’s part of the problem: that her election is seen as “a done deal.”

“Nobody knows that there’s anybody else in the race,” McDonald said, praising Brady as the sort of numbers guy he loves. Beyond Holland though, he said he’ll be making an issue of City Manager Jim Landon’s salary, an amount he calls “absolutely criminal” for a city of Palm Coast’s size, and making an issue of city debt and the large number of customers disconnected from city utilities every month–an amount that equates to about a third of the customer base each year, he says.

“It is good to have Dennis McDonald in the race,” Brady said by email later in the day. “He is very aware of the issues that face this city and the people of Palm Coast. I am sure you are aware of the water cut off rate and from a human service background denying water to people makes these families virtually homeless in a home. Dennis is concerned about the utility fund and rightly so.”

Asked about suing the very taxpayers he now seeks to represent, McDonald said: “I sued the administration of the city, I didn’t sue the city so to speak, it’s the way the city is operated, and the second time I sued I was injured very badly, and the city refused to fix the sidewalk.”

 The first lawsuit was judged frivolous, and McDonald was ordered to reimburse the city’s attorneys’ fees. McDonald says his attorney at the time was twice in rehab during the lawsuit and did not properly focus on the matter. The second case was settled in April. McDonald said the city eventually fixed the sidewalk where he’d fallen and been injured, and fulfilled its obligation in the settlement.

His political candidacies aside, McDonald has stayed in the public eye for about five years as a regular critic of county and city policies and leadership. He’s opposed the county’s acquisition of the old hospital that it transformed into a sheriff’s operations center and criticized the county’s beach-management plans, for example, and more recently was critical of Palm Coast’s rezoning around European Village, though the city discounted his criticism as ill-informed. He’s also filed ethics complaints against county commissioners.

McDonald’s wife, Janet, was elected to the Flagler County School Board in 2014.

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28 Responses for “Dennis McDonald, Who’s Twice Sued Palm Coast, Now Wants To Be Its Mayor”

  1. Indo/Republi/Crat says says:

    The more the merrier. A wide range of candidates with differing back grounds and philosophies is what this country is all about. The electorate will eventually figure out who has there best interest at heart. OK candidates now start slinging Mud! Only in Palm Coast.

  2. r&r says:

    Is this guy nuts??

  3. Barry Hartmann says:

    His record speaks for itself. I will not be voting for him.

  4. Percy's mother says:

    I would never vote for Holland for the following reasons:
    1. She has Netts’ endorsement.
    2. She already has a well-oiled (funded) machine (special interests).
    3. She’s by far the most experienced (we don’t need more of the same).
    4. Just because she’s widely and well-known in the area doesn’t mean she’s the best candidate for the job. Netts will be leaving Palm Coast in deplorable condition.

    All the insiders and long-term people in City and County need to be replaced. Everyone is sick of them all. We now want people who are able to think outside the political box. She will never have my vote.

  5. Knightwatch says:

    No! No! No, no, no. Don’t do this to us McDonald. Go away… leave Palm Coast alone. We don’t want you. We don’t need you. We want to be happy, not forever angry, disgruntled, mistustful.

    Why do you hate us??

  6. PJ says:

    McDonald has made really poor judgement decisions just in the past couple of years with his attacks on local politicians. Leadership like this would cripple the City.

    He is the most uninformed resident as he focuses on the mundane and simply negative things. His kind of thinking will inevitably cost the City money just in lawsuits.

    Well heck he already wants to start one with Jim Landon on his contract.

    Old McDonald had a farm “I just wish it was in another County” eieiooooo………..PJ

  7. Robjr says:

    I met and sat next to Dennis McDonald at an AACS function, a Valentines Day breakfast. When I see him we stop and talk. Although he and I are on the opposite ends of the political party continuum we have similar perspectives on many issues in the city and county.

    He has my vote. And I will work for his campaign.

  8. mafungo says:

    Macdonald ain’t great but still an improvement.Holland is Netts in a dress same ole same ole.

  9. Joe says:

    Well nobody should be voting for the same old, same old. Which candidate is going to bring employment opportunity’s, which one will fix these dilapidated golf course areas, which one will lead with new fresh ideas for Palm Coast, I’m done with the same old stagnant way things are here. Bring some fresh new ideas and you got my vote!!!

  10. MCDonald for Mayor says:

    The city has tried to bully MCDonald and he has shown grit to challenge them and hold them accountable and has won. McDonald will stop the out of control spending and corruption. We all know what we have with Netts and Melissa Holland would be more of the same. MCDonald is what we need. McDonald and two other council members can change Palm Coast for the better! McDonald has my vote!! I’m so thankful we now have a Mayor candidate worth voting for.

  11. David B says:

    Maybe we need a Rebel to shake up town. Besides he’s wearing a FSU Go Noles !!

  12. G... says:

    No please, go back to CT.

  13. Sherry says:

    While we don’t live in Palm Coast. . . what does it say about anyone who would continually raise the roof over every issue and implement costly (paid by tax payers) “frivolous” law suits against local government entities? How in the world do these completely irresponsible actions qualify McDonald as a good government leader? Have we really sunk so low that people are actually willing to vote for anyone who cares nothing for representing the best interests of their constituents . . . but who would waste large sums of tax payer money to recklessly push their own personal agendas?

    Mc Donald. . . the absolute worst kind of politician!

  14. Layla says:

    He has my vote. What this city does not need is a Holland well oiled machine. We need a new face, new goals, and yes, a new city manager.

  15. Jimmietwoshoes says:

    He has my vote. And I will work for his campaign.Holland is Netts in a dress same ole same ole, Changed her party for $ .
    Dennis cares about the people and the city, unlike those wanting to fill their pocket’s…..

  16. Common Sense says:

    Yes, we need some changes in Palm Coast but the last thing we need is McDonald. He is divisive and his style is fire then aim. He and his friends, the RRR, have already cost the citizens thousands of dollars with their unfounded ethics complaints and frivolous lawsuits. His wife is already on the school board ad they are trying to create a well oiled machine of their own.

  17. Ben Hogarth says:

    A uniquely articulate man from my own observations…

    With that said, I can also assure you that while McDonald may be great at identifying all of the puzzle pieces, he is the last person you would want trying to fit it all together…

    That’s a funny way of saying that he is great at identifying all of the worlds problems (like so many others), but he is the last person you would want finding solutions for you.

  18. Knightwatch says:

    McDonald is a cranky and litigeous Ronald Reagan Republican. You know who and what they are. If they take over, there goes pretty much any reason to live in PC. No trees, parks or sidewalks. Hateful, rankorous relations with the council and county commission. A divided city.

    Don’t do it, PC. Life is too good here. We’ve got a good city. Don’t let them screw it up, because they will.

    And don’t forget… this guy has cost this city – that’s you and me – thousands of dollars with frivolous law suits. Now he wants us to pay him??

  19. tulip says:

    McDonald is a spiteful Reagan Radical. not needed or wanted.

  20. YankeeExPat says:

    A Trump Mini-Me…………outsatanding Palm Coast……WTF?

  21. Rita May says:

    Why is he running against his buddy Ron Radford?

  22. Nancy N. says:

    We need to put someone on the council that will work to help patch up the ongoing tit for tat between the council and the commission so we can get some things done around here effectively. Electing McDonald would be the equivalent of setting off an IED at that peace summit.

  23. Ready for a responsible city council for a change says:

    Dennis McDonald is what we need here in Palm Coast. His wife has done a fabulious job on the School Board and he too would be an outstanding Mayor. I am delighted that Dennis has decided to run for Mayor. I am sure Milissa Holland thought she had it in the bag. I wouldn’t vote for her for dog catcher!

  24. footballen says:

    Totally agree Nancy.

  25. Jose Rodriguez says:

    Dennis McDonald has my vote! He would be so much better than what is in there now. He would be fiscally responsible and get our city of the path of recovery from the millions of debt we now face.

  26. Indo/Republi/Crat says:

    If the election were today, I would have to vote for Mr. McDonald because he has not been a professional politician like Ms. Holland. Correct me if I am wrong, but Ms. Holland has never held a job outside of public service before has she? I am tired of voting for career politicians who graduate from college and go right into running their little part of our government without any practical experience. Mr. McDonald has a lifetime of business experience and I believe is honest and would look out for the best interest of Palm Coast. He just needs to get his mind on what is best for his city and stop trying to police every elected official’s actions. He needs to get on task and stop patrolling. Voters of Palm Coast need to learn to cross party lines and vote for the best candidate for the job what ever party they represent. Sincerely, Indo/Republi/Crat

  27. RJ says:

    Dennis, You have my vote man. I appreciate all you do to be a watch-dog for us tax payers so the county and city can’t continue to pull the wool over our eyes. The corruption has to stop, and I know with you in office it wil!

  28. Zoe Lundmark says:

    I hope you win Dennis. After reading and googling all the info I could find on you, you have the vote of my household.

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