Jane Gentile-Youd is the independent, or no-party affiliation, candidate for Flagler County Commission, District 4, running against Joe Mullins, who defeated two-term incumbent Nate McLaughlin in the Aug. 28 primary.
Two seats are up on the commission in this election cycle: District 2, held by Republican Greg Hansen, and District 4, held by McLaughlin. Hansen defeated Republican Abby Romaine in the primary. He now faces independent Dennis McDonald in the general election. Neither seat drew Democratic opposition.
All registered voters in Flagler County may cast a ballot for both county commission races in the Nov. 6 election, regardless of party affiliation of address in the county.
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
- Critical issues
- Sheriff’s building
- Homestead exemption increase
- Financial commitment to school security
- Beach rebuilding
- Palm Coast relations
- Social safety net
- Economic development
- Craig Coffey
- Background check
Place and Date of Birth: November 29, 1943 New York City.
Current job: Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker.
Party Affiliation: Republican, running as Non Part Candidate.
Net Worth: As of June 2018: $698,740. See financial disclosure.
Website and Social Media:
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.
My qualities and what makes me qualified to serve as the Flagler County Commissioner for District 4 and to unseat the current commissioner: Served as a Miami-Dade Community Council 5 and Zoning Board Member; Chairlady, Miami-Dade County Municipal Advisory Board for incorporation of Country Club Lakes; Member of the Flagler County Long Range Planning Board; Graduate of 2014 Flagler County Citizens Academy and chosen as Chairlady of Mock Commission meeting by Flagler County Staff.
I will be a better commissioner: I have been regularly attending and participating in Fagler County Commission meetings as well as budget hearings and workshops for over 16 years as a homeowner, property tax payer, voter and realtor during which time I have tapped my previous experience in government as well as have been continually learning how not to be a ‘politician,’ but instead to be a good ‘representative’ of the people. I had been attending meetings for eight years (since 2002) when Nate McLaughlin took office.
Monitoring our county government by keeping up to date on issues affecting our health, welfare and safety as well as our quality of life is of primary concern to me. As a one-person activist I am constantly lobbying the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to maintain our road safety, lighting and appearance. My husband and I also participate in the adopt a highway program.
I will NEVER vote as incumbent commissioner has voted every year since being elected to raise the property tax rate which has increased over 50 percent since he took office eight years ago. In fact he does not risk losing his home since he has not, since taking office, paid a dime directly in property tax.
I will never rudely cut off a speaker who needs more time to share important concerns and facts with the commission as the incumbent, as chair, has always done at both County Commission meetings and other boards.
I will make time to meet with constituents during and after,working hours and not just at Town Meetings at only one location, as the incumbent has done.
I will read my agendas thoroughly and sponsor changes I would like to see as well as participate in projects first hand unlike the incumbent commissioner who relies on staff input and opinion on just about everything which he votes on.
I do tend to have a short fuse when I react to someone’s attempt to convince me of something I know is not true. I also have a habit of interrupting people which I am trying to curb.
Flagler County Commission
Greg Hansen (Rep., Dist. 2)
Dennis McDonald (Ind., Dist. 2)
Joe Mullins (Rep., Dist. 4)
Jane Gentile-Youd (Ind., Dist. 4)
Flagler School Board
Janet McDonald (Dist. 2)
John Fischer (Dist. 2)
The Candidates on ESE
Palm Coast City Council
Jon Netts (Dist. 2)
Jack Howell(Dist. 2)
Eddie Branquinho (Dist. 4)
John Tipton IV (Dist. 4)
1. Sheriff’s Operation Center: It is my firm opinion that nothing, not even an A+ rating from the CDC will ever convince the public safety personnel to willingly return to work in the former hospital/current Sheriff Operation Center. It is a matter of health and welfare of our valued public safety employees as well as an issue of overall well being and morale. Having heard testimony from some of our valuable employees that many of them are looking elsewhere to serve the public rather than return to this building infected with bad ‘karma,’ at the very minimum it is imperative that they are given a ‘home base’ which they are comfortable working in and where they are happy to come to work and take care of the serious crime issues. Without decently taken care of (and properly paid) public safety personnel, including fire fighters and emergency personnel, our county will suffer serious consequences we cannot afford.
2. Our lack of a full service hospital in our growing community is of great concern to me. Many life saving procedures are not performed at Flagler Hospital – patients are often transferred to Halifax or Ormond Memorial , especially in trauma situations or for complicated heart surgery. Nor does the hospital ( the last I heard) still does not have a maternity center yet they do not pay one dime in taxes to the county as they a religious property tax exemption. The cost of our ambulance services, which will increase, and helicopter services put many, if not most citizens, in a financially dire situation. This is unacceptable to me. I would like to work with medical professionals towards improving Flagler Hospital facilities.
3. We do not offer the job opportunities to contribute to positive economic growth. We do not have the infrastructure in place nor graduate nor vocational training programs. We cannot survive and grow on housing construction, retail shops and fast food joints. We need to promote skilled labor as well as high tech and professionals into our work force and create more of a cosmopolitan ambiance. This will take combined efforts of all of Flagler County working together from the beaches to the farmlands.
What do you mean by giving sheriff’s employees a home base from where they’re comfortable working? Are you writing off the Sheriff’s Operations Center? And if so, what’s your specific alternative solution in the near and long-term, and how would you pay for it? What has Florida Hospital Flagler got to do with county government? The hospital runs its facility as a business, and has explained its lack of a maternity ward and trauma center very simply: demographics don’t warrant it. What could you do as a commissioner to change that, and why would that be a priority, given other county concerns? As to your third point, it sounds good but also sounds like the standard campaign line every candidate has uttered for decades. What are you proposing that’s more concrete and doable, beyond sound bytes?
Comfortable meaning that they do not have apprehension, uneasiness etc. about their working environment and feel good about their surroundings. I sure am writing off the current Sheriff’s Operations Center. The latest report from the CDC raises the possibility of mold between the drywall which the county’s contracted engineer, at $18,000 for one day, didn’t touch. The purchase of this dump borders on malfeasance in my opinion, going back to the outrageous pre-purchase inspection by the commission with two flashlights that day of infamy, May 6, 2013. My alternative solution is compound because we need to find money to build anew:
A. A forensic county audit going back as many years as the majority of the new commission will approve. I feel that we will find a lot of waste, a tremendous amount of waste in fact, and if we go back far enough we should even be able to find the several million dollars, over 5, still unaccounted for when the new building was constructed.
B. Secondly, land the county does not need should be sold (like the prefab barn with no electric and too weak a slab to support a fire truck with water) for starters.
C. Removing the top heavy weight on the 3rd floor of the Government Services Building. 1) Deputy Administrator not necessary – needs to be eliminated. County never had one (other than to save an airport administrator from leaving the county) until Palm Coast took away 75 percent of the county in the first place. County administrator could be given a choice – pack his bags or take a cut in pay and give up the extra perks like almost $500 a month to drive 6 mile to work. Waste is blatant. Sales tax money was used to purchase the Sheriff’s Operations Center building the first time and the legislature could vote on funding for such an important county facility if our legislators push hard enough. We don’t have to raise taxes – the worse case scenario, we could vote on a special short term bond issue. We don’t have to simply raise taxes.
Editor’s note: a voter-approved bond issue would equate to a tax increase, as the bonds would have to be backed by dedicated revenue and existing sales tax money may not be bonded.
Florida Hospital is under a “Community Health Needs Assessment’ program, which mandates that they provide medical services to the county based on community need, not profit, to qualify to continue to receive the Federal Income Tax exemptions it gets as well as the 100 percent Flagler County Property Tax exemption it has been enjoying for 16 years of an average of $1,033,770 per year total gross including Palm Coast and school taxes– the county portion alone this year is $442,698.00 Add up 16 years of that alone equals $7,083,168 again – just the county share. The hospital is not allowed to run as a for-profit business. Flagler County is hovering around 110,000 residents. None of us have a trauma nor maternity center nor even a complete program for every type of heart surgery. I know people who were transferred to Daytona. The closest Trauma center is in Daytona and we don’t have a helicopter available anymore between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. to transport emergency needs. With the ever increasing amount of accidents, our roads sometimes are backed up or even at a standstill which could be critical in transporting to Daytona an injured Flagler resident. As commissioner I assure you I would take this very seriously.
Editor’s note: Health care facilities must go through the state’s certificate-of-need regulatory process to secure such things as trauma centers. Other than in an advisory capacity, county commissioners have no authority over private businesses’ strategy.
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?
No amount of testing, retesting, rehabilitation, etc will ever remove the stigma and negative karma affecting this building. Had the incumbent District 4 Commissioner kept his word of May 6, 2013 at 12:16PM when he promised , as an “expert in asbestos” that the county would NEVER close on the building without a “ 100 percent clearance on asbestos and that the building further would have to pass many air quality and swipe tests by an independent industrial hygienist firm, we would not be in the position we are today – faced with a building which I predict will be demolished. How do we pay for a new Operations Center? Maybe we can survive for a few years between the space our Clerk has offered in the Courthouse as well as the Emergency Operations Center. I don’t have an answer to immediate funding for a new building. The needs of the Sheriff and his staff need to be met immediately and any compromise they are comfortable with of course will be of great help to the taxpayers. The first rehab I believe was paid for by some state tax revenue; this is a very vexing and serious issue which must be resolved soon. Can the state help out? Is there any federal program we can turn to for financial aid? The final resolution may unfortunately be a special bond but we can try first for outside funding.
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 1. Why? We will be adding more homes which will pay not a dime for the services they are still entitled to receive which means that those whose property values exceed the $75,000 exemption will be paying for all municipal services to those who are exempt from contributing to the tax base. Broward County, years ago found themselves in a tax situation since many condos built in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s were valued and selling for under $75,000. Added to the mostly small residences who the rest of the taxpayers will be supporting we already have another unfair imbalance in ad valorem taxes with exclude mobile homes on rented land ( if you own the land under your mobile home you are taxed like everyone else but not if you rent a pad to put your ‘home on). These mobile homes are classified as ‘vehicles’and pay no more than $100 a year road tax no matter how many people use municipal service
This is nothing but a political grab for votes in my opinion and is unfair and totally impractical.
Your opposition to the Amendment is clear, but you appear to misunderstand the amendment itself. The way the exemption is structured actually favors homeowners at the higher end of the scale, and shifts the tax burden to those you would consider middle class. The additional $25,000 exemption, in other words, does not kick except for home values between $100,000 and $125,000. In essence, there’s a hole between values that are between $50,000 and $100,000: those homeowners will get no additional exemption. Given that reality, do you still oppose Amendment 1? And if so, how will you make up the expected revenue shortfall?
As a licensed real estate broker for over 30 years, as well as a homeowner and former councilwoman I agree 100 percent with our licensed Property Appraiser’s personal opinion as voiced on October 12 on WNZF radio. No one wins because the additional loss of ad valorem revenue to the county will obviously be offset by another increase in millage – to make up for the cost of services. If you save one group you are causing another group to pick up the necessary gap and that is very unequitable in my opinion to begin with. Our millage is already over 8.5 and the cap is 10 mills, or $10 per $1,000 in taxable value. What could very well happen, if we take from Peter to pay Paul, is that one of these day we will hit the 10 mill cap and lo and behold the county starts creating ‘special taxing districts’ as is rampant in other counties and each special taxing district has a separate 10 mill cap. There is, however, no state-wide maximum of combined total millage caps that a county can charge, and that scares me even more. We have the $50,000 plus other exemptions which, in addition to our taxes never being as high as the real-world resale value, I think we should leave well enough alone. I reaffirm my NO vote on amendment 1 – we will all pay one way or the other and I want to keep the millage under that scary 10.
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 am against raising the tax rate this year for the following reasons:
Yes, we need to fund the Sheriff more because of the state mandated and necessary officers required in our schools. We also need to fund the many employees of the county who deserve their 3 percent cola cost of living increase and some staff are very much underpaid. The increase in our property values, at last year’s tax rate will bring in sufficient revenue in my opinion to cover the above necessary budget increases.
The others: Sorry folks – how many of us decide we want more money for next year and demand our employers pay us? We all manage on the budgets we have and don’t have a fairy godmother who will simply wave a wand and give us what we want. The county constitutional departments, other than the Sheriff and county employees, will have to plan on making ends meet with what they have any maybe a few more dollars might come in from the property value increases.
We need to eliminate the contracted unnecessary deputy administrator costing us over $200,000 a year and whose job description is yet unknown.
We need to see about selling some unnecessary county owned property including the useless barn we have invested over $1,000,000 million dollars so far which is used to store road and bridge equipment. There is plenty of vacant land out west to house a fire station with enough room to land many helicopters. This was an overpriced dumb investment and even if the county sells at a loss we deserve a refund we can put to better use.
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?
I would pledge to preserve the split in cost between the school district and the county for the mandated School Resource Officer regardless if Amendment 1 passes or not.
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?
I must beg some time on this one. We need a permanent fix which we all know but how? There have been success stories in Hillsborough Beach in Broward County as well as in Saudi Arabia, Long Island New York and many other places. There is a lot of specialized research needed. This is way outside my expertise but I think we need far more than the Army Corps and other government agencies advising us and dictating to us because no one yet has come up with the end all solution. I wish I had the answer right now.
Conceding that you don’t have the answer on what to do to rebuild the beach, what of the rest of the question: assuming there’s another devastating storm, what money would you go after, or what new taxes would you explore, to pay for the next repairs? And do you believe that seas are rising, which would then beg the question: at what point are repairs a losing battle?
As I have stated before I am not an expert in this matter but I pledge that I would put my efforts into exploring solutions world wide if necessary which may have been effective on a long term basis. Yes I do believe the seas are rising and yes I am concerned of the possibility of a losing battle, which is why I would like to see more research done. We made a mess of the hospital at a far lower cost than we could make a mess of the method of repairs. Trucking in sand as the only solution every time there is a severe storm cannot be the only answer. We can send people into space. We should be able to find a better more long lasting fix.
Jane Gentile-Youd did not address the question on new revenue.
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.
I come from a big city: I am color blind. I do not see color, race, age, sex , employed outside the county or retired, or political party affiliation having anything at all to do with the duties, responsibilities and issues facing every one of us equally today in Flagler County. Our issues have no party. Anyone who is 18 or older, an American citizen and resident of Flagler County is eligible to run for public office and offer their services to the county. We do not have voter intimidation nor discrimination to discourage anyone from running. Age? The older I am the more I have learned to share with my younger counterparts. Working full time at another job? Being a commissioner should be a full time job and if one is retired from a former profession it should be considered a plus to bring experience to the county ( although it is not exactly 100% full proof).
To be clear: you’re saying that having five older white males on the commission makes absolutely no difference in how policy is actually reflective of the county’s more diverse demographics? A woman, an African-American, a Jew, a Latino would not bring any different perspectives to policy-making? You may be “color-blind”–generally a luxury of whites not used to racially-motivated bigotry–but you’re not telling us how you would ensure to reach out to those different constituencies. Or does “color-blindness” absolve an elected official of that responsibility?
Once again I differ with you. Local issues do not have color . Our federal laws are very clear on discrimination in any form. Giving or conceding to one group based on race, religion, language, national origin, sex or whatever is something I will not participate in. “All men ( and women) are created equal” and that is exactly what I pledge to be guided by.
My solution: Hold a minimum of quarterly joint commission meetings on projects of mutual interest with the full cooperation of both city and county administrator/manager who will take direction from them, rather than direct them, from the participating commissioners. I would support a similar arrangement with the county and Flagler Beach- together with Beverly Beach and a joint commission with Bunnell as well. Once or twice a year there should be a get together among all Flagler County Leaders where voting on joint projects can take place or a least passing resolutions to work on starting those projects of mutual interest.
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 sufficient?
I would feel more comfortable making a decision if the county’s contributions are sufficient after learning of all the agency’s needs and accomplishments with what they are getting now. I certainly would never support any cuts in current funding.
You told us above that you’re almost always in attendance at county meetings and workshops, where those numbers were recently laid out, with presentations–and requests for more funding–from each of those social agencies. Their requests were also well publicized and reported, as in this story. Can we try the question again?
Sorry if my use of ‘regularly’ was construed as ‘almost always’… As compared to any other citizen in all of Flagler County, other than Jack Carrell and more recently George Mayo, I attend what I consider to be on a regular basis. I listened and attended the meeting when all the social agency requests were made and cannot make an honest assessment as to their real needs or not because I have not done my homework on these issues quite frankly. If elected I will do my homework right away, I assure you, to formulate an opinion.
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 department should exist only if the voters choose to fund it, the same as they made the sole decision to fund the purchase of environmentally sensitive lands.
The department was a creation of the County Commission. Your answer suggests that absent a referendum showing support for the department, you’d abolish it. Is that the case?
I would never sponsor anything so drastic as abolishing any department simply because I do not believe it was properly created. However I will, if elected, wish to do my own personal review and assessment of cost versus result which currently is not paying for itself. I am open to improvements and perhaps consolidation with another department but the status quo is just not acceptable to me.
Craig Coffey is a very handsome, charming, well spoken, very respectful in his manner, very bright and always impeccable dressed in a well fitting suit and tie but don’t let that fool you. He takes full advantage, far too much advantage by controlling just about everything and everyone who works under – and over him. That is a real problem which the commission has not taken control over in my opinion. Millions of dollars of projects, purchases, decisions, ideas originate under the county administrator, who more often than not places his projects on as much as three pages of items lettered ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘c’, to hide the total number of items- sometimes 15 or so that he places on his famous ‘Consent Agenda’. Most commissioners receive their 200 to sometimes over 1,000 page package just days before the commission meetings and it is obvious that they turn to Coffey for how they should vote rather than take control of these issues and direct the county administrator instead of vice versa. Coffey recently told the commissioners, “This is what I want you to do…” That kind of sums it up: Coffey, the master of water utilities, tourist expert, buying old dumps expert, and super expert in buying the most expensive stuff and putting us into continual debt. His insistence on a year in advance severance package in the event a future commission majority votes to sack him was one of the last straws for me, until his plan to re-hire his retired Coffey-mate at over $200,000 topped his severance package. Coffey is too busy signing $18 million deals ($13 million plus $5 million maintenance during contract) deals with Motorola and taking a loan out while still paying the outstanding current ‘antiquated’ emergency communication. How he finds time in between all this maneuvering to send 3 page e-mails individually to constituents wishing them well in their pursuits is amazing. The only citizen who spoke in favor of hiring him in front of the commission is now an outspoken advocate of replacing the Coffey Pot and unnecessary Coffey Mate. Your charm and looks aren’t enough anymore.
To be clear: Coffey never proposed a year’s severance package. The law no longer allows it (he’s limited to 20 weeks). But for all that, are you saying that, like your current opponent–Joe Mullins–you’d fire Coffey, if elected?
What I said clearly was that Coffey negotiated his possible severance package almost a year in advance of when the package would become effective. On April 2, 2018 the commission approved a package with an ‘effective date’ of February 2019 which the sitting commissioners bound all commissioners, two of whom could be different in February 2019 than the two who voted on April 2, 2018 to guarantee Mr.Coffey …the minimum of 20 weeks gross pay, full county pension contribution and full county medical if terminated but “able to work.” Based on his salary on April 2, 2018, his 20 weeks salary would be $61,072… his 20 weeks county pension contribution $13,869 and 20 weeks county medical contribution of $4,038 would total a minimum of $78,970 severance guaranteed beginning with a future termination date of February 2019 for 20 weeks not for a year.
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 I have never been charged with a felony or misdemeanor.
2018 Election Candidates, Flagler County
|County Commission District 2||Greg Hansen, Incumbent (Rep)||Abby Romaine (Rep)||Dennis McDonald (NPA)|
|County Commission District 4||Nate McLaughlin, Incumbent (Rep)||Joe Mullins (Rep)||Jane Gentile-Youd (NPA)|
|School Board District 1||Andy Dance, Incumbent||Unopposed|
|School Board District 2||Janet McDonald, Incumbent||John Fischer||Carl Jones|
|School Board District 4||Trevor Tucker, Incumbent||Paul Anderson|
|Palm Coast City Council Seat 2||Jack Howell||Jon Netts|
|Palm Coast City Council Seat 4||Jose Eduardo Branquinho||Corinne Marie Hermle||John Tipton|
|Florida House District 24||Paul Renner, Incumbent (Rep)||Adam Morley (Dem)|
|Congressional District 6, Democratic Primary||Stephen Sevigny||Nancy Soderberg||John Upchurch|
|Congressional District 6, GOP Primary||Fred Costello||Michael Waltz||John Ward|