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It’ll be a Race After All: Jack Howell Will Challenge Jon Netts For Palm Coast Council

| May 11, 2018

Col. Jack Howell. (© FlaglerLive)

Col. Jack Howell. (© FlaglerLive)

Col. Jack Howell, the retired Marine, leader of Teens in Flight for the past dozen years and a former candidate for sheriff, this morning filed his papers and declared as candidate for Palm Coast City Council, District 2—the seat Heidi Shipley is vacating. Shipley had encouraged Howell to run. He now joins former Mayor Jon Netts in the race. He may not be the last name to jump in.


Howell, 75, a centrist Republican, has an opinionated, sharp-tongued independent streak and an outsize personality tempered by self-deprecating wit and moderate politics. But he’s untested politically other than his run for sheriff in 2008, when he ran as a Democrat, thinking he’d win the primary and capture the Obama wave of straight-ticket Democrats. He polled 20 percent in a four-way primary that Jim Manfre won. He hasn’t been a Democrat since.

Two seats are open on the council this year with the departures of Shipley and Steve Nobile, both one-termers who felt frustrated by their inability to break out minority votes on the council. Eddie Branquinho and John Tipton are running for the District 4 seat Nobile held. The seats are designated by district, but voters from across the city cast votes for both candidates, regardless of voters’ address.

If the District 4 race is between two largely unknown and relatively recent newcomers to the city, the District 4 race will feature two men who need little introduction in many circles around town.

“This is deja vu all over again,” Netts said, quoting Yogi Berra. A few months ago, he was having dinner with his wife Priscilla at Steak and Shake when Howell approached him and asked him if he was going to run. When Netts said yes, Howell said he wouldn’t. But Shipley’s departure changed Howell’s mind.

“I’ve not seen anything from him yet so I don’t know what he says he brings to the table,” Netts said of Howell, “but certainly hard working, dedicated. But I’m not sure he has any experience in local government. But then again, none of us did when we first started.”

“Jon is a friend of mine and he has a wealth of knowledge,” Howell said this afternoon, referring to Netts, but said he’s had his time as councilman and mayor and was term-limited out. “It’s time for somebody’s new ideas. That’s why I’m doing this.” Asked how he squared his age with pledge to bring new ideas, he said: “I’m dealing with kids all the time. My mind tracks with them. I listen. And I stay young in the brain and young in the heart. I can communicate with the younger ones.”

Howell cited three issues among his priorities, neither particularly new or surprising.

jon n etts

Jon Netts at his farewell at the city council in November 2016. (© FlaglerLive)

The first mirrors what most candidates, including the last three to be elected: “I want to build a détente between the city and the county,” Howell said, using a word from the Kissinger era in the 1970s, when it referred to the cold war. “All of these guys on the county commission are friends of mine, two of them are Navy officers of the same rank as me, and three of us have worked in Washington,” and know how to compromise, he said. “We really need to move forward. We have enough of that in Washington D.C. that we don’t need to be butting head down here.”

The second was jobs—not just retail or strip-mall-type jobs, but high-paying jobs, which he said the city needs to focus on and draw. “There’s nothing wrong with a restaurant, but that’s not my idea of well-paying jobs,” Howell said. Most candidates running for city or county governments in Flagler, as in most of the nation’s 5,000-odd counties, at one point or another speak of bringing jobs to their constituents. But the job of bringing jobs is among the less tractable powers of elected officials, as they quickly find out once elected. The city and the county have not been suffering for jobs, however, adding some 12,000 people with jobs since the end of the Great Recession (though a significant proportion work outside the county).

The third issue taken from the Shipley-Nobile playbook. “It’s apparent that Jim Landon is a very strong personality,” Howell said of the city manager, “and Jim Landon pretty much gets done anything he wants to do and the city council members shy away from open confrontation with the city manager, they just kind of go along. I believe in the chain of command. From my perspective, the city manager works for the city council, not the other way around. We’re there to direct him.”

That, too, has been a recurrent theme among candidates—a theme that has tended to recede once the candidate becomes a member of the council.

Howell, a resident of Fellwood Lane in Palm Coast, enlisted in the Marines in 1961, went to officer training school at Quantico, Va., in 1962 and again in 1964, went on active duty in 1966 and started a 13-month tour in Vietnam in 1967. He was wounded at Khe Sanh, one of the bloodiest battles of the war. He stayed with the Marines until March 1990, moving to Florida that year.

His first job locally was in Flagler Beach—as captain of lifeguards for the city. He then added the title of city safety officer to his credentials. When he decided he needed to make more money, he taught in the JROTC program in New York and Connecticut until his return to Flagler in 1994, where he had a house. He then started Teens in Flight, the charity that gives flight lessons to teenagers of fallen soldiers and victims of PTSD—and let them earn a pilot license for free. He ran for sheriff, unsuccessfully, in 2007.

Twice in the last few years Howell survived serious motorcycle crashes. He no longer rides, but he still flies, having logged some 500 to 600 hours of flight time just since launching Teens In Flight. One of those flights was part of a cross-country fund-raising effort he led on behalf of the victims of the Aurora cinema shooting in 2012 that left 12 dead and 70 injured.

Howell says he intends neither to put up campaign signs nor to accept donations, limiting his campaigning to appearances at political forums, civic and cultural events. Netts so far has taken in barely $100 or less, and has turned down donations, saying he’d rather wait and see what sort of tenor the campaign will develop.

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35 Responses for “It’ll be a Race After All: Jack Howell Will Challenge Jon Netts For Palm Coast Council”

  1. james connors says:

    Jack Howell is exactly what this city needs.

  2. Ben Hogarth says:

    Jack,

    You will always have my admiration and respect for your service, particularly with all that happened at Khe Sanh – You all dug in under some of the most intense shelling and siege. That’s the kind of bravery and courage that is needed on the Palm Coast Council at this moment.

    Jon Netts – if you backed out of the campaign and gave this war hero a chance to serve his country and community one more time, It would speak volumes of your character.

    I don’t usually speak out against the “process,” but it’s fundamentally broken in America right now. All we can do is try to make a difference while waiting for the opportunity to reform it in its entirety

  3. Laurie says:

    Jack has my vote!!!!!!!

  4. jim says:

    GET R’ DONE JACK!!!!

  5. Veteran says:

    Thank you Colonel, Netts has had his years of fame.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yea, yea, yea!!!!! Howell has my vote. Netts is the worse thing that ever happened to palm coast!!!!!!!

  7. r&r says:

    Go Jack…………. Semper Fi.

  8. Linze says:

    Hope Jack wins
    Had too much of nets

  9. Jack Howell says:

    FlaglerLive,
    Please allow me to make a point of clarification about my position on bringing better paying jobs to Palm Coast. As you well know, many politicians pay lip service to this issue. I don’t play this game. I know that it is not the job of an elected official to create jobs. However, it is the job of an elected official to work to foster a better environment for a business to locate here. By that I mean, to review the bureaucracy of building and business regulations that tend to strangle the efforts of a new business wanting to locate here. If elected, my job would be to work with the business and review the barriers that may be hampering the start up. Things have changed since Palm Coast was established. So it is possible that some of our regulations need to change with the times as well. Does that mean that I want to see Palm Coast Parkway and State Road 100 mirror US 1 in St. Augustine with huge signs and tacky advertising? Absolutely not! We must maintain are pristine appearance which makes Palm Coast unique. That is my goal on this issue.

  10. Shark says:

    Netts is just a Landon Lackey and did nothing when he was mayor !!!!!

  11. Fernando Melendez says:

    Mr. Jack Howell has not only my admiration but also my respect, and vote. With his solid background, I’m a 100 percent sure that his decision making skills, Whether the traditional scientific rational method, or the ad hoc model he’ll implement, Will no doubt serve the people of Palm Coast interests and values a lot better than the model through which decision are made by today by our city council, which is the muddle through and some how we’ll get through this method. Look at where their decisions have gotten us this far.
    Howell for council – R section

    Fernando Melendez
    Conservative Independent

  12. KMedley says:

    Want more puppets?
    Then vote Netts
    Want to give Palm Coast a Voice?
    Then Jack Howell is the ONLY Choice

  13. Layla says:

    After John Netts served for 15 years on the Palm Coast City Council, I am very much in agreement with Ben Hogarth. It’s time to put Jack Howell on the City Council, and not John Netts. New ideas are a good thing. Landon needs to work for the Council, and not the other way around. I think that Jack Howell will probably do a better job in that regard. Good luck, Mr. Howell. You have my vote.

  14. OMG says:

    Seriously could we get any more old men to run for office here? Why doesnt the city pay their council people a decent wage so people can actually run that represent the demographic here. Instead working people who want to make a decent living need to commute to Jax or Daytona and how do they have time to run for office? They dont!! Same old crap, same names, same faces and same old story!!

  15. Bill Gordon says:

    I know Jack dispirit his”tough” guy persona he is a genuine NICE guy. He has my VOTE. That being said just about ANYONE would get my vote over Landons lap dog.

  16. Fiscal says:

    Absurd. Someone with REAL business experience and education

  17. Jack Howell says:

    Dear OMG,
    Everybody is entitled to their opinion and I respect yours. I would ask that you need to get to know me before you cast me as just another old man. Age is a just a number. I have unique leadership experiences, a solid education and excellent communication skills. Most importantly, I know how to listen. I have a reputation as a guy that builds strong teams and gets things done! Give me a chance to prove myself.

  18. Harvey Serrano says:

    Jon Netts has my support.

  19. Born and Raised Here says:

    Age is a factor, need someone younger.

  20. Chris A Pickett says:

    Funny how people say you are not supposed to prejudge, be racist etc….Then people do exactly that. Not all older people are the same, just like people of any given race or color are not the same, as well as political persuasion. Odd how many people are quick to do exactly that………..Seems hypocritical, and it confuses a lot of people. I guess you just have to “say” the right things……they often say talk is cheap.

  21. palmcoaster says:

    I sure will support Colonel Howell if I can talk to him and he agrees to our following issues to be in his agenda for resolution as we residents attend council workshops and meetings and spend our 3 minutes begging to resolved the following issue to no avail so far:

    1) spend more of our taxes resolving the current neglect of Old Palm Coast North of Palm Coast Parkway by bypassing or redirecting 8,400 cars a day transit on Florida Park Drive contaminating with emissions those homes too close to the curve posing a health hazard and a speed safety issue to the adjacent neighbors all along Florida Park Drive. Also the leaks out of Holland Park Drive with any rain that prevents the neighbors to use only sidewalk sliding and slipping around and the same leak now form a pond across the street in the corner with Fawn Lane. Also the needed landscape between the sidewalk and curve that will beautify and erase the blight and will be a barrier for cars emissions as well. City went in all the privately owner right of ways of Florida Park Drive years ago and built a sidewalk that was needed with no problems but never set a deserved landscape on it. If Mr. Howell takes a ride on FPD and specially Farragut Dr. will see what blight and traffic means.

    2) We are told that there is no money yet for the above but they waste our tax dollars destroying and rebuilding currently gorgeous White View Parkway to make it in to another linear park and reduce the 4 lanes to two “in a growing city” and the excuse is traffic safety, because the adjacent neighbors requested by e-mail..? That is a lie no such e-mail also this was not in the city strategic plan is our manager bypassing council and the people’s approval by making the bunch of millions total cost divided in cost per each street block?.Millions wasted when needed in the Florida Park Drive traffic and landscape improvement. Also in our drainage and sewer repairs in old Palm Coast. Also millions of our tax dollars and the reserves for from our utilities were wasted in the purchase of all those private lots and the expensive infrastructure corner of Boulder Rock and Rte 100 and also on the Town Center CRA. Just the last property purchase cost us $201,000 in one small lot recently…all for the sake of commercial enterprise there. Two parcels we paid 1.3 millions was sold to the developer of WaWa in Orlando for $800,000 …? That is throwing our tax revenue out into private pockets for the sake of more commercial development and a dubious future tax revenue, while denying traffic and contamination resolution, the repair, replacement and improvement of our Florida Park Drive and our old storm water, drainage and sewer system in old Palm Coast.

    3) the concern created for owners on the saltwater canal fronts with a study for a tax district in our homes to do canal dredging not needed and repair seawalls from owners that are not enforced to repair theirs. This is grossly unfair for so many of us that keep our seawalls in perfect condition at a cost of over 17,000 to 20,000 for 100 ft front. Why force us to pay for others seawalls? What city needs is an ordinance to repair or replace a seawall that is caving in. Give the tools to code enforcement to address the issue.

    4) Lets preserve our City Code Enforcement Department as they do a good job and without them Palm Coast will become a dump!

    5) Lets give credit were credit is due. Lets name Linear Park “Councilman Jerry Full Park” he deserves it as if not for our late Councilman Jerry Full handing us copied information and rallying against it, developers of Canopy Walk and others were planning to close our grandfathering walkway after buying the land from ITT. Mr. Full was an steward of preservation of our city environment and he worked tireless even when ITT his employer was no so fan of his stands. Mr. Carter has a Park, so does Mr. Holland why denying Liner Park to Mr. Full?

    6) Our Golf Course is doing great under our City Management now and I understand the revenue is very improved! That shows that somethings are not better in private hands. We fought hard to have our Palm Harbor Golf Course reopened and a 5 millions cost, lest do all needed to continue preserving it. I am not a golfer but is an amenity to our city and adds beauty to it and value to our homes. My only concern is that parcel still held by Pulte, (I believe and I hope I am wrong) in the practicing range and near the restaurant and clubhouse. Isn’t the statute of limitation expired to build those villas there? Hope so will be enforced because without that area then the golfers will be gone.

    These are all my main concerns to be addressed by any new candidate for our city government and also my deepest appreciation for just running for those seats! Thank you!

  22. Just the truth says:

    It is obvious more people don’t want Netts, enough is enough. Jack has my vote.

  23. tulip says:

    Just because Howell has more “votes” on this page doesn’t mean he’s going to win. The people that comment here are only a teensy weensy miniscule portion of the over 80,000 voters in Flagler county. To vote for someone because they have a small majority on a poll is a mistake. I’m not sticking up for any candidate as I need to hear and see more info. To make an intelligent vote for someone, a voter needs to really LISTEN and HEAR and THINK ABOUT what each candidate has to say before casting their vote,, To just vote for a candidate because a family member, friend or co worker says to is a dumb thing to do, and people that vote that are lacking in the ability to listen, learn and come to their own conclusion as to who they want to elect. This applies to any elected office.

  24. carol says:

    You have my vote Jack!!!!

  25. starryidgirl says:

    Keep Netts out of City Hall!

  26. EJR says:

    Thank you to Tulip for educating all of us on how our votes should be cast.

  27. Jack Howell says:

    Tulip,
    Your points are well spoken and I agree 100% with your position. Thanks for the input!

  28. Chris A Pickett says:

    Hey Tulip You mean like Hillary saying Women must vote for her or they are betraying other women, right?
    Or maybe Hollywooites telling people who to vote for. I think your garden needs weeding……

  29. tulip says:

    @CHRIS A PICKETT You are way off base in what I was saying!! I never liked Hillary ever, and would never vote for a woman just because I’m one. Women need to earn their qualifications just like men.

    I SAID that people should listen to all candidates from all sides, think about what they say and do and then vote their OWN minds, rather than vote for whomever someone tells them to. As far as weeding my garden, I pick and choose whom I’m going to vote for or not vote for from what I read, hear and/or know about the person

  30. Randy Jones says:

    Colonel, I understand you will not be using campaign signs. Please let us know if you need volunteers to assist with your victory. Remembering my Scoutmaster, MGYS Edward R. Storm, KIA, QUANG NAM Province, 28 Dec 1969.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Tulip—Apparently you fail to realize that only a small percentage of registered voters vote! This means what the small amount of engaged people here on this blog has to say is important….these apparently engaged people. I think we can all agree that we have had a belly full of Jon Netts and never want to see him back in office. I think we also can all agree that we are fed up with the same old and we need new fresh faces in the leadership positions in this county so we know not to vote for those who have been in officer in the past, and not to reelect those that are seeking reelection. Voting for Netts, Holland and others in the past has proven to not be for our best interest….it is time to move on and elect new blood and Jack Howell is the man running for this seat that is the best fit! VOTE JACK HOWELL IN 2018!!!

  32. Chris A Pickett says:

    Tulip, I stand corrected, The point I was making is We should not only listen to what they say, as talk is cheap and politicians will say anything to get elected, but what they have done in prior service/office, And john Netts has had his run.

  33. tulip says:

    I am actually very glad there is an actual race for Shipley’s seat and welcome the competition, and the fact there is a “fresh face” that actually has some concrete and down to earth thoughts and speaks up, which really peaks my interest in learning even more, rather than having a “ho hum what else is new” same ol same ol attitude about the candidates. I also like new ideas, even though the present city council doesn’t have any, but there is now hope things can start to change. I wish all the races were more competitive and would even like more than 2 running for the same seat against an incumbent, both in county commissioner races and city council races.

  34. Jack Howell says:

    Palm Coaster,
    Call me and let’s discuss your concerns and ideas. 386-569-5685

  35. anon says:

    Hey Palm Coaster, so where will those in the old C section go if Florida Park Dr. is closed or, God forbid, pollution causing stop signs are put up all up and down that road? The speed limit is already only 30 mph. There really is NO quicker way to get to Palm Harbor Rd. if you are living off Cimmarron. I do think we need more sidewalks along Cimmarron and other main thoroughfares. In Miami sidewalks go right through front yards of homes with no issues.

    As for forcing every salt water canal homeowner to fork over $12,000 to $20,000 to repair their busted seawalls (thanks to the hurricanes) by forcing code enforcement to fine them, that’s just dumb.
    Glad you can afford to pay that much for repairs every time. Most can’t.

    I’ve met and talked to Col. Howell several times, nice guy.

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