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Greg Hansen, Flagler County Commission Candidate: The Live Interview

| August 26, 2018

greg hansen

Greg Hansen. (© FlaglerLive)

Greg Hansen is the Republican candidate for Flagler County Commission, District 2. He is challenged by  in the Aug. 30 primary.


Two seats are up on the commission in this election cycle: District 2, held by Republican Greg Hansen, and District 4, held by Republican Nate McLaughlin. Both Republicans have drawn opposition in the primary. No Democrat has filed to run, so there is no Democratic primary in either race. Only registered Republicans may cast a ballot in the primary races for the County Commission seats.

Two independents have filed: Dennis McDonald in District 2, Jane Gentile-Youd in District 4. Independents have no primary. The two independents will face the winners of the Republican primary in the November 6 general election.

Flagler County Commission members serve four years. They’re paid $53,951 a year.

FlaglerLive submitted identical questions to all candidates, with the understanding that additional questions might be tailored to candidates individually and some follow-up questions may be asked, with all exchanges on the record. The Live Interview’s aim is to elicit as much candor and transparency as possible. We have asked candidates to refrain from making campaign speeches or make lists of accomplishments. We have also asked candidates to reasonably document any claim or accusation. Answers are lightly edited for clarity, relevance and, where possible, accuracy. If a candidate does not answer a question or appears to be evading a question, that’s noted.

But it’s ultimately up to the reader to judge the quality and sincerity of a candidate’s answers.

The Questions in Summary: Quick Links

The Basics: Greg Hansen

Place and Date of Birth: Baraboo, Wis.,  December 22, 1946.
Current job: Chairman, Flagler County Board of County Commissioners.
Party Affiliation: Republican.
Net Worth: $652, 237. See Hansen’s financial disclosure here.
Resume.
Website and Social Media: Facebook      http://electhansen.com/

1. Tell us who you are as a person—what human qualities and shortcomings you’ll bring to the board, and what makes you qualified to serve—or to unseat an incumbent, as the case may be. Please give us real-life examples to illustrate your answer.

I derive great pleasure from serving. I enjoy serving the folks of Flagler County, especially the face to face aspects of this job.  My background of 27 years of Naval Service, which included Command of two warships, Service in-country Vietnam, Completion of a Master’s Degree in Financial Management, has prepared me to serve as a County Commissioner.  This experience allows me to serve the people of Flagler County with integrity and honesty bringing increased accountability and efficiency to our government.

You also spent over a decade with the PMA Group, Arlington, Va., the lobbying firm with direct ties to lawmakers, especially the late and once-powerful John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat. You managed over a dozen client accounts for what amounted to half the life of the firm: why not mention that experience? You left in 2008. Less than a year later the firm was raided by the FBI and investigated by the Justice Department. What were the circumstances of your leaving the firm? You did not, in the original question, tell us about your shortcomings. 

I covered my job at PMA in my Bio. I am very proud of my accomplishments bringing up to date technology to the US Navy.  I left there to work for one of my clients.

Greg Hansen’s bio does not answer the questions asked.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

2. What are the three most critical issues facing the county, and where do you stand on each?

A. Economic opportunity and job creation – Support the efforts of our economic opportunity director, keep taxes low while providing the services required of our residences, and continue to improve the quality of life in Flagler County.

B. Maintain low taxes – Work with fellow County Commissioners to keep unnecessary increases out of the budget.

C. Beach repair/renewal and County drainage issues on a long term basis – Continue to work with State and Federal Agencies to maintain our beaches and attack drainage issues throughout the County.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

3. To what extent has the handling of and testing for sick building syndrome at the Sheriff’s Operations Center been—or not been—adequate? The sheriff’s nearly 70 employees assigned there remain unconvinced about the safety of the building. What’s your next move? If rebuilding the Operations Center becomes necessary, how would you finance the project?

The primary focus of our efforts regarding the Sheriff’s Operations Center is the health and well-being of the Sheriff’s employees.  We have done extensive testing of the building and that testing will continue.  We have called in the Center for Disease Control asking them for assistance. We will make no decision regarding this building until we have exhausted all possible tests and inspections.  Ultimately, it will be the Sheriff’s decision whether or not to reoccupy the building and that decision may be years down the road.

As things stand today the sheriff and his employees have no interest reoccupying the building, nor so the sheriff and his employees trust the testing done so far by your administration.  Are you comfortable letting the sheriff’s split operations remain nomadic for “years,” if re-occupation of the building–were it possible–to be “years down the road”? And again: if rebuilding the operations center becomes the necessity on your watch in the next four years, how will you pay for it?

The decision to reoccupy the building or not is solely the responsibility of the Sheriff. Once he has made that decision we will move forward.

Greg Hansen did not otherwise answer the question. 

See Abby Romaine’s answer

4. Voters are likely to approve Amendment 1, an expansion of the homestead exemption to up to $75,000 this fall. All local governments except schools will see shortfalls. First, do you support the additional exemption? Please explain your answer. Second, how will you make up the lost revenue?

I do not support Amendment One.  It is a tax shift, not a tax decrease.  We will have to make up the difference in lost revenue by either cutting services or raising taxes.

What sort of services would you cut? Can you give us two examples? You have so far voted against the current budget, which calls for a small tax increase. Would you vote for a tax increase next year to make up some of the revenue lost from Amendment 1, assuming it passes? 

I have not cut nor intend to cut any services.

You just told us that to make up revenue from the consequences of Amendment One the commission would have to make up revenue either by cutting services or raising taxes. That means you’ll raise taxes? 

Greg Hansen did not answer the question.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

5. Commissioners like to say they won’t raise taxes or will keep taxes, or at least tax rates, flat, as some are trying to do this year. But with rare exceptions, they don’t provide options of what they would eliminate from the budget to keep their promise. Are you against property tax increases? What three specific line items would you cut from this year’s proposed budget to keep the property tax rate flat?

I have held the line on tax increases. We have cut new hires, new projects and new equipment from this year’s budget and we have delayed one major program for a year.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

6. State law requires armed security in every public school. Flagler has chosen to have a School Resource Officer at its schools. The district and the county essentially split the cost. County Administrator Craig Coffey told commissioners during a workshop this summer that they don’t have to assume that security cost. He’s right, under the law. With Amendment 1’s consequences ahead, would you reduce the county’s share? Alternately, do you pledge to preserve that split for the duration of your term?

The decision to use School resource officers was solely made by the School Board and they are responsible for the funding of this program.  Through the good offices of the Sheriff he volunteered to fund 50 percent of the cost.  Additionally, the Palm Coast City Council volunteered to fund one of the new positions. I cannot speak for the County Commission, but as a single Commissioner I support the Sheriff’s decision and will support the program in the future.

Just to be clear: you would then insist on maintaining the 50-50 split for the duration of your term?

I cannot insist on anything relating to this funding. It was a decision made by the Sheriff and the School Board.

You’re evading the question: would you as 20 percent of the commission stand by the 50-50 split for the duration of your four years?

Greg Hansen did not answer the question.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

7. It’s costing the county at least $26 million to rebuild the shore’s dunes, upwards of $40 million when the state’s rebuilding of State Road A1A is included, and almost $60 million when the U.S. Army Corps’ funding of the Flagler Beach portion of dune repairs is included. That’s just for Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. It is now demonstrably certain that sea levels are rising, and Flagler’s revenue sources for additional beach protection are tapped out. How do you propose to pay for the next repairs should a hurricane like Matthew or even a strong storm with damaging surges strike during your tenure? How is beach protection not a losing battle?

See 2.C. above.  Tourism, our beaches, is the primary source of revenue to Flagler County.  We will continue to work.

We gave you a pass on the generality of 2C. We can’d do it again on a question you’re not answering. To be more precise: do you agree or deny that sea levels are rising and are affecting Florida’s shore? Given that county coffers are tapped out, how will you fund repairs to another storm’s consequences, should it happen on your watch and state and federal dollars don’t cover the whole bill (as they did not last time either)? Do you see a point where renourishing the beaches is no longer feasible?

You are asking me to comment on unproven Science, which I am not qualified to do.

You consider rising seas “unproven science”?

Greg Hansen did not answer the question.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

8. We currently have five white Republican men as county commissioners. The average age is 67 in a county where the median age is 50. Only one commissioner holds a private-sector job. The commission is by far the least diverse of all of Flagler’s local governments, in a county nowhere near as homogenous as the commission would make it seem to be. Explain first the consequences on policy and responsiveness of that lack of diversity (if you think there are no consequences, explain why), and second, explain how you have reached or would reach out specifically to constituencies that don’t mirror the commission’s demographics.

We have five dedicated County Commissioners whose only goal is a safer, better, well managed County.  We work hard and conscientiously to keep taxes low and improve our quality of life. I personally have solicited members of minority communities to become more involved in County government by joining any of our County Advisory Boards. I am buoyed by the entrance of several minority candidates in this year’s election cycle.

Does the current lack of diversity, which would continue should you be elected, make any difference at all in policy outcomes or the perspective of commissioners? Aside from soliciting advisory council members–which is really done through the administration by seeking out resumes: the commission casts vote to make its choice once the names are in–what have you personally done in your half-term on the commission to reach out to minorities and make them feel included in the process? 

Greg Hansen did not answer the question. 

See Abby Romaine’s answer

9. Palm Coast and the county continue to have difficult relations at times. To what extent are the two government’s managers responsible? How will you help foster a less medieval relationship?

The City Council must look after the City and the County Commission must look after the County.  Occasionally there will be conflicts between our two bodies’ goals and objectives, but we agree on much more than we disagree on while we manage our two governments. We have discussed having occasional joint meetings to work out our differences. I will make sure that this happens.

We’ve been hearing about these promised meetings for years. Why haven’t you made sure at least one took place since your appointment to the commission just under two years ago, or at least since you’ve chaired the panel? What’s the hold-up?

I have met with Mayor Holland, officially, regarding points of disagreement. We continue to find common ground.  I would like to have a joint meeting.  And I believe that will happen.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

10. To what extent should the county commission be responsible for a social safety net in Flagler? Is the money the commission annually awards groups such as the Free Clinic, the Family Life Center and the Early learning Coalition enough?

We are responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of life in Flagler County.  Investments in the Free Clinic, the Family Life Center, and others help greatly to accomplish that.

But is the money being awarded enough? The groups say it isn’t, and were asking for more than the $5,000 supplement you awarded each this year. Considering their role in improving individuals’ quality of life beyond mere sloganeering, can they count on you for more in future years?

We balance a lot of issues during the budget process. This is just one of them.  They have not had a raise in our contributions in years.  We do what we can.  They provide very good and much needed services to our County.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

11. We have an economic development department that consumes upward of $450,000 a year though it’s been responsible for literally just a few dozen new jobs since its inception in 2011, compared to the 17,200 jobs the county has added independent of the department since. But we don’t have a homeless shelter. How do you justify the contrast—and the continued existence of the economic development department?

This year alone the Economic Development Office has accounted for 130 new jobs which created over $77 million in economic output for the County. Currently, care of the homeless is being accomplished by several non-governmental organizations.

That’s the first we hear of either figures. What 130 new jobs? What companies? Your colleague Nate McLaughlin’s figure for the entirety of the department’s achievements is “$14 million in new wages to the local economy.” Whose figures are wrong? Even assuming yours are: you’re not telling us how an organization that takes credit for 130 jobs can be justified in light of over 17,000 created without its help, since its inception. Are you telling us it’s good enough, at a cost of $450,000 a year to taxpayers?

Where do you get your numbers? 17,000 new jobs?  Nate and I are both using figures from our Economic Development Office.  Both are correct.

Clearly, your economic development office is not providing you the full picture, nor does it seem you’ve sought it out: our numbers are from the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity. You can see and compare the numbers for yourself from the state’s July 2010 employment numbers for Flagler (27,775) to its latest numbers last May (45,423). The question still stands: how do you justify your department’s 130 jobs at that cost, in light of those numbers? 

Greg Hansen did not answer the question.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

12. Evaluate the performance of County Administrator Craig Coffey, listing strengths, weaknesses and areas of concern.

This question can only be answered by the five County Commissioners.  Mr. Coffey works for us.

Right, and you work for us. That’s why we’re asking you: you’re one of the five. So: can your 20 percent evaluate him for us?

Greg Hansen did not answer the question.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

13. Have you ever been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor anywhere in Flagler, Florida or the United States (other than a speeding ticket), or faced a civil action other than a divorce, but including bankruptcies? If so, please explain, including cases where charges did not lead to conviction.

No.

See Abby Romaine’s answer

2018 Election Candidates, Flagler County

Races
Candidates
County Commission District 2Greg Hansen, Incumbent (Rep)Abby Romaine (Rep)Dennis McDonald (NPA)
County Commission District 4Nate McLaughlin, Incumbent (Rep)Joe Mullins (Rep)Jane Gentile-Youd (NPA)
School Board District 1Andy Dance, IncumbentUnopposed
School Board District 2Janet McDonald, IncumbentJohn FischerCarl Jones
School Board District 4Trevor Tucker, IncumbentPaul Anderson
Palm Coast City Council Seat 2Jack HowellJon Netts
Palm Coast City Council Seat 4Jose Eduardo BranquinhoCorinne Marie HermleJohn Tipton
Florida House District 24Paul Renner, Incumbent (Rep)Adam Morley (Dem)
Congressional District 6, Democratic PrimaryStephen SevignyNancy SoderbergJohn Upchurch
Congressional District 6, GOP PrimaryFred CostelloMichael WaltzJohn Ward
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10 Responses for “Greg Hansen, Flagler County Commission Candidate: The Live Interview”

  1. Lnzc says:

    It’s time to elect new members,look at the money they have and are waisting,

  2. Fiscal says:

    Please explain how being in the military prepares anyone for a position that requires creative business thinking.

  3. Sherry says:

    I, for one, am NOT satisfied with any of the incumbents in our current county commission! In my opinion, they are all a bunch “good ole’ boys” that collect a pay check while letting Craig Coffey make terrible decisions with little or no control or oversight.

    Many of us have complained about this situation over and over again. Now is the time to do something about it. VOTE ALL the incumbents OUT!

  4. County employee says:

    This arrogance is what will decide the future of the County I love and the job I love. Very sad.

  5. Knows Jack says:

    I find no comments amusing…as in Greg Hansen, who cares….Go Abby!

  6. Vincent Neri says:

    Greg Hansen approached me while I was doing some chores outside my home. He was looking for my vote but was not prepared to earn it. I explained to him that I felt the county commission was not getting the job done when it comes to bringing in high paying jobs. His answer was that we do not have a large enough work force to attract those type of organizations. In addition, He told me that they have brought in $15 an hour jobs which pay 40K per year. I explained him that I have been here since 1995 and all I heard since then when it comes to bringing in good jobs is that they are coming. In addition, I let him know that $15 per hour is not 40K per year while he was walking away from me. Greg is another one of those politicians that just throws numbers and statements out there whereby they are mix of truths and untruths.
    The reality is that a lot of the jobs in Flagler County are low paying and would not be enough to support a home. I view Mr. Hansen as someone that has a sense of reality based on living in Flagler County while enjoying a large income with great benefits. Unfortunately, This is not the case for many residents some of which work in the county and still require government assistance just to barely get by. Yes, Greg Hansen has earned all that is coming to him and his reality is very much shaped by it. People in Flagler County need to think about what Flagler County would be if economic expansion was just based upon the private and public sector jobs in the county. This is what we really have in Flagler County.
    The majority of expansion in Flagler County has come from people moving here after having built their financial future from somewhere else. Let me provide an example. A school teacher decides to retire here after working in Long Island, New York. Their salary before retiring is 120K per year. Their pension is now 5k per month. In addition, they receive over 2k per month in social security benefits. They also have access to outstanding health care because they now have Medicare. Before they retired their home appreciated in value hundreds of thousands of dollars. This person moves here and says Flagler County is awesome. Yes, It is awesome because you did not have to build your financial future in Flagler County. We need to elect people to serve our county that are trying to build their future here because it is then that they will have more skin in the game.
    My opinion of Greg Hansen is that his consciousness of Flagler County is his lifestyle in Flagler County. His facial expressions towards me was that of arrogance based upon his ego driven mind. When I called him out on his numbers he was shocked. I am well aware of how people struggle in this county because I graduated from two private universities in Florida and struggle as well. It is easy to walk away from a resident when you are not about serving people but more about serving your wallet.

  7. tulip says:

    There were some pertinent questions that Hansen did not answer, either he didn’t want to, especially the one concerning the investigation of the company he worked for and also not answering question 12. Apparently he prefers to be on Coffey’s good side. I was not impressed by his answers to the questions asked. Actually, the only commissioner I do think is worthy is Mr Obrien. Incumbents out and new blood with backbone in.

  8. Sherry says:

    Thank you Vincent for your first person account. Your story is, unfortunately, not surprising to me. Let’s have some “new” commissioners who want to do more than “add income” to their retirement checks. Time for new thinking! Time to elect those who are not lazy and afraid of Coffey! Time for our commissioners to take control! Time to vote ALL incumbents out!

  9. Anonymous says:

    DUMP HANSEN—VOTE–ABBY. WE WANT OUR REPRESENTATION ELECTED, NOT APPOINTED!!!!! HANSEN HAD A CHANCE TO PROVE HIMSELF AND HE HAS LET US DOWN!!

  10. Pogo says:

    @Wake up, pour the Republican Kool Aid out.

    And take a sober look at the truth:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagler_County,_Florida

    Then take a long nap and dream about the past, and having your cake while you eat it too.

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