Andy Dance is running for the District 1 seat that Charlie Ericksen, a two-term Republican, is not contesting again. Dance, the school board member since 2008, and a Republican, faces Corinne Hermle, a Democrat. Dance will resign his school board seat regardless of the result in November.
Three seats were up on the commission in this election cycle. In District 3, incumbent Republican Dave Sullivan defeated Kim Carney, the former Flagler Beach city commissioner, in the primary. Because that race drew only two Republicans, it was a universal primary, meaning that all registered voters cast a ballot.
In District 5, incumbent Republican Donald O’Brien, who easily defeated Bob Jones in the primary, faces two independents in the Nov. 3 election: Denise Calderwood and Paul Anderson.
Flagler County Commission members serve four years. They’re paid $55,387 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 conducted by email and 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. Undocumented claims are edited out. Answers are also edited for length, redundancy, 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
- School cops
- Beach rebuilding
- Beach rebuilding
- Environmental protection
- Economic development
- Jerry Cameron
- Social media
- Background check
- Potential conflict
Place and Date of Birth: August 2, 1963, East Islip, N.Y., in Flagler since 1972.
Current job: Business Owner, Andrew S. Dance & Associates, LLC, specializing in landscape architecture and related design and planning services. I am a Florida licensed landscape architect. Flagler County School Board member since 2008.
Party Affiliation: Republican.
Net Worth: $706,605.
Website and Social Media: www.AndyDance.com and https://www.facebook.com/AndyDanceFlagler
See Andy Dance’s previous Live Interview.
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.
Who I am as a person has been defined by my upbringing here in Flagler County, by the examples set by my parents (George and Nancy Dance), their work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and my Christian faith.
Our family moved to Flagler County, like many others at the time, to escape the hustle of New York and Connecticut and to find new opportunities in an emerging area of Florida. My father had the chance to join his friend, Tom Lenssen, in the cattle business at TLL Ranch on Old Kings Road. From there, my parents started several successful businesses along the way, including Flagco Gas (propane), Plantation Home and Garden Center, Keels & Wheels, Plantation Land & Cattle, Florida Sportsman’s Festival, Aqua Force Marine, Sundance Realty and Century 21 Sundance Realty. Working alongside my parents in these businesses fostered my entrepreneurial mindset, determination, and problem-solving abilities that I carry with me today.
In my leadership positions with the School Board and the Early Learning Coalition, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many personality exercises. They all tell the same story…I am a bit of a data nerd. I analyze everything; I love to scour data and read case studies to improve policy and processes. The “True Colors” personality test is one that identified me as “Green.” “Green” people are classified as clever, level-headed, logical, competent and visionary. On the downside, “Greens” will sometimes over-analyze and can be skeptical. In the work setting, “Green” personalities…
- Are visionary and independent workers
- Prefer a work setting with less structure and little bureaucracy
- Enjoy taking calculated risks to test innovative ideas
- Biggest asset is their drive to be competent, logical and accurate.
My experience as an elected member of the Flagler County school board, including two years as Chairman, 12 years on the Board of the Early Learning Coalition of Flagler & Volusia and two years as Chairman of the Flagler County Community Traffic Safety Team have been extremely valuable and will shorten the transition to a County Commissioner.
Adversaries will say my best qualities are level-headedness and patience. In contrast, friends will say my worst fault is time management.
You are by disposition and character a centrist, you always take a deliberate, analytical approach, and you tend to abhor confrontation. Do you think your assertiveness has suffered, or can suffer, as a consequence? Are there times when you place consensus ahead of conviction?
My actions as an elected official are based on a set of personal morals and convictions. As previously mentioned, my upbringing in an entrepreneurial/small, family run business environment steers my fiscally conservative review of operations, while decision making is data driven and focuses on listening to constituents on sensitive issues that come before the board. In a small business, customer service is crucial for long-lasting success. I use these principles to guide decision making.
I disagree with your assumption. I am assertive when needed, and don’t place consensus above conviction. Allow me to clarify.
I believe governmental boards govern efficiently and with the constituents’ best interests in mind when the five elected officials focus on mission and vision and not on personal agendas. Elected boards are an interesting mix of individuals with different personalities, life experiences and areas of specialty. Effective boards put aside their differences and work toward common goals. Conflicts and confrontation always arise. When they do, the appropriate response can add clarification and help move the board along toward the common goals or be antagonistic and potentially block collaboration and erode trust. We should make decisions that build trust.
In my experiences extreme, disrespectful confrontation forces people into corners and they become defensive and stop listening. Strategic assertiveness and deliberate confrontation can be accomplished while maintaining mutual respect. As the need arises, elected boards can take advantage of workshops, retreats, and group leadership training to keep the members focused on goals, mission, and vision.
Economic Development encompasses growth in jobs, wages and tax base. With the disbanding of the economic development department, we need a comprehensive economic development strategy that is transparent, sets measurable goals and is accountable the community.
Within this new strategy, I want to see emphasis on existing business growth we can call “GrowFlagler”, modeled after the successful statewide “GrowFL” program that brings a 9 to 1 return on investment. This program has a track record of success in growing employment, increasing wages, expanding services (GrowFL.com).
Additionally, Flagler has a great opportunity to leverage the UNF MedNex medical training campus’s announcement into new medical support businesses that complement the campus. This facility can be the start of a medical hub, providing opportunities for our high school students and new, high-wage jobs in the County.
Flagler has a successful tourism campaign marketing our beaches, but I see huge growth potential in eco-tourism, agri-tourism, educational tourism.
Growth – 300,000 people a year are moving to Florida, and many of them are looking to Flagler County due to our quality of life and natural resources like the beach. Flagler needs to grow smarter. “Smart Growth” is a somewhat overused term, but I see smart growth as incorporating:
- Natural/Environmental Resources protection
- Cohesive, walkable neighborhoods
- Providing adequate infrastructure
- Variety of housing
- Limiting sprawl.
Safety and security – Providing for a safe and secure community that recognizes and supports our first responders is important and personal to me, as my brother is a retired highway patrol trooper.
Safety also encompasses properly designed, safe roadway infrastructure that includes walkable streets, with adequate sidewalks and street lighting.
Current track record – The County is showing mixed results in the areas I highlighted, which is why they are areas of focus for me. Economic development is in a flux right now, with the decision to disband the Department of Economic Development. We need a community visioning session to build a consensus on economic development moving forward. I believe part of that should focus on our own small businesses, helping them grow and diversify.
Growth will continue to be a major topic for Flagler County and Florida. Natural and environmental resource protection is a priority if Flagler is to grow sustainably. I support a community-wide re-evaluation of our Comprehensive Plan and land development code that can properly guide sustainable residential growth and streamline commercial development regulations to make Flagler more appealing for existing business expansion and relocating businesses.
As for safety and security, the Sheriff is doing an outstanding job. Our excellent County fire department hasn’t received the attention they deserve in the past, which is reflected in staffing shortages and outdated facilities. The County has recognized this, and I want to ensure we remain focused on this issue and see a multi-year, phased plan for improvements.
We could not document your claim of GrowFL’s 9 to 1 return on investment, nor see the organization as much more than a business assistance center built around CEO’s, with a paid membership for participation, and its signature annual “Companies to Watch” program. Can you be more specific as to that model’s application locally? Are you looking for a return to Enterprise Flagler-type, membership organizations? Considering that pre-covid, Flagler-Palm Coast added 10,000 jobs since the end of the Great Recession without the help of either the city’s or the county’s economic development departments–which is in large part why they were disbanded–why is it county government’s place to worry about helping business grow and diversify, as opposed to ensuring that the infrastructure is in place to help businesses prosper? What would be one example of “educational tourism,” and how would you see West Flagler capitalizing on agri-tourism?
The GrowFL 9-to-1 return on investment claim can be found in this Florida TaxWatch Research Blog: https://bit.ly/2EjAGTP
I am intrigued by the GrowFL concept of “economic gardening”, an “entrepreneurial approach to economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within”. The model has shown to be effective to help small businesses create jobs, grow wages, expand services and markets, and strength the local economy. (see ICMA.org / https://bit.ly/2HaBFGW)
Flagler County is in a growing area of Florida, and with the increasing number of rooftops comes a need for more services. Businesses, especially low wage retail and fast food establishments, naturally migrate to growing areas. Our residents are looking for more than entry-level, service jobs. They are looking to local government to foster a business-friendly atmosphere that attracts high-tech, high wage jobs to Flagler. To be successful at this, first and foremost, we need an exceptional K-12 education system. Flagler Schools meets that criteria especially with its focus on “Classroom to careers” programs. Secondly, local government can show a commitment to helping our small businesses grow and prosper, which is the premise of “GrowFlagler” and economic gardening. Once we establish that Flagler is pro-business, to both existing and new companies, bringing high-tech, high wage jobs to Flagler will be easier.
Flagler County can benefit from one of the fastest growing tourism segments and become an “education tourism” destination. Sites that make up this market include the Marineland Dolphin Adventure, Princess Place Estates, our state parks (Bulow, Gamble Rogers, Washington Oaks), Flagler Beach Historical Museum, the Flagler County Historical Society and the Florida Agricultural Museum. The Ag Museum can become an even larger tourist draw with the formation of the Kings Road Historic District, an area west of US 1 and adjacent to the Ag Museum. The proposed Kings Road Historic District consists of three unified, historic properties that will serve as a living, historical and educational experience. The District includes the Hewitt’s Revolutionary War Sawmill & Dam, the 1767 Kings Road and the 1840 Ft. Fulton archeological site. The public can learn more about the Kings Road Historic District and how they can help this endeavor by visiting https://www.facebook.com/KingsRoadHistoricDistrict/.
A successful agri-tourism industry in Flagler solves two issues. First, it will bring visitors to Flagler County and secondly, it will strengthen farms and ranches that cover our west side of the county, preserving valuable open space and reducing the enticement of residential sprawl. Bratcher Farms, Cowart Ranch & Farms & Huckleberry Farms are just some of the agricultural operations providing farm-to-table fresh produce, tours, crop mazes, and horseback riding and trails.
3. Evaluate the county’s response to the coronavirus emergency. As of this writing, the county has not mandated the use of masks in public places, though it’s in the commission’s power to do so. Tell us how you’d vote on a mask mandate, and explain your answer, citing appropriate scientific authorities.
The initial governmental responses to the pandemic were hard to measure at the time, as this was an unprecedented experience in our lifetime. In retrospect, there is plenty to evaluate as more is known about Covid-19 and the adverse impacts of the lockdown on communities and the economy.
My most significant disagreement with our local governments was the lockdown on our parks, trails and beaches. I believe a temporary beach ban during spring break was appropriate, but the beach should have been reopened as soon as the Spring Break period was over. There is plenty of space at the beach and in our parks and trails for residents to enjoy fresh air and exercise while still keeping physical distance.
The initial lockdown goal was to limit the spread of the virus and reduce the strain on our medical facilities. There had to be room at the hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients and care for normal illnesses and emergencies. While the lockdown did reduce spread, it was devastating to the economy. We should continue to open restrictions and the economy, while monitoring community spread, as long as our medical facilities are not overburdened.
While I dislike mask wearing (I wear glasses, and I have yet to find a mask that does not fog my glasses), it is the appropriate and compassionate community response to keep the spread in check. The County Commission mask resolution was a reasonable measure that stated the importance of wearing a mask indoors while giving those with existing conditions a reprieve if medically needed. For our physical and mental health, I urge everyone to get outside, take off your mask and enjoy our wonderful natural recreation areas, parks and trails (physically distanced, of course)!
“We should continue to open restrictions and the economy, while monitoring community spread, as long as our medical facilities are not overburdened.” The standard seems surprisingly permissive: if hospital capacity alone is the key factor, are you not saying that any level of community spread–and ensuing infections, hospitalizations, complications and deaths, not to mention survivors’ ordeals–is tolerable as long as capacity is not overwhelmed? Does that calculation not make still-considerable deaths and suffering tolerable? Is that very standard not among the reasons why we have continued to see an average of 1,000 deaths a day across the nation, and about 400 a week in Florida, with our county’s number up to 25, as of this writing? How is that remotely acceptable?
The problem as I see it, as the pandemic has progressed, the numbers that drive the lockdown keep moving. At first the reason for the lockdown was to limit spread and avoid overrun healthcare facilities and over stressed front-line workers. The populace agreed and we endured a 30 day stay at home order, school closure, and the shutdown of many businesses.
As phase one opened portions of the economy, and eased the stay at home restrictions, different criteria were established for determining risk. The criteria fluctuated. And the criteria treated everyone as if we had equal risk, and we don’t.
Who is at risk? The elderly, above the age of 80 are 20 times likelier to die from Covid-19 than residents in their 50’s. Residents with underlying medical conditions are more likely to die when compared to healthy people (https://bit.ly/2RYFwJD).
In my opinion, the cure can’t be more detrimental than the disease. The lockdown is behind us. We learned a lot from that lockdown and the subsequent limited re-opening. In addition to the pain and suffering from deaths and illness caused by the virus, there is extensive pain and suffering to families that have lost their livelihood, lost their life savings or investments in businesses that have been forced to close. Bread winners couldn’t work or support their families and are now in spiraling debt and face foreclosure and/or being kicked out of their rental homes. Children have regressed educationally and emotionally due to school closures and remote learning, which disproportionately affects the poor. For the economic, physical, and emotional well-being of Flagler County and the nation, we must continue opening the economy and our schools while at the same time follow common sense recommendations to limit community spread. Put in place plans that protect individuals most at risk (the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions), vulnerable populations and protect our first responders and critical healthcare operations and workers. If we are to continue progress on reopening, we must wear masks when we can’t achieve physical distance and we must wash our hands frequently (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/global-covid-19/community-mitigation-measures.html).
4. Commissioners like to say they won’t raise taxes or will keep taxes, or at least tax rates, flat. How do you define a tax increase—as keeping the rate the same or as exceeding the rollback rate? Adopting your definition of an increase, 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 where you’d want it?
If a Flagler County taxpayer is paying more property taxes this year than last year, no matter how the politician defines a tax increase, the taxpayer knows they are paying more. Being fiscally conservative and growing up in a small business environment, I do not like tax increases. My goal will be to look for increased value in the dollars the County spends in order to keep taxes low.
In the recent “Taxpayer Accountability and Transparency Project” report, Flagler County received an “A” in spending but also received a glaring “D” grade in DEBT and a “D” grade in government size. Those two areas are the low hanging fruit that needs to be analyzed and data dissected to determine areas of inefficiency and establish a course of action to improve these grades.
The methodology of the report you refer to is interesting but possibly unfair, as it applies the very same criteria to, say, Broward as it does to Flagler. By the report’s approach, Flagler government has twice as many employees–with over 700 per 100,000 residents–as it should, if it were to follow Broward’s lead as an A county for government size. Can you cite, say, three positions that you think are currently superfluous? The report also penalizes counties for having higher average salaries for their employees. Are you suggesting that recent county pay raises are out of line, and current salaries should be slashed?
Within the report, the criteria for comparing counties is broken down into two categories based on size, large counties with over 150,000 residents and small counties with less than 150,000 residents. Therefore, the value of the report is not in comparing grades between Broward and Flagler, but in comparing the data between similarly sized counties, say Flagler and Nassau.
I acknowledge that straight comparisons can be flawed to a degree, even among similarly sized counties. That is where the fun begins, in dissecting the data and trying to draw real comparisons so that a determination can be made about the inefficiencies or excesses that resulted in the poor grade.
The “Government Size” grade is based three areas: percent of government spending on salaries and benefits, number of full-time government employees per 100,000 residents and average public salary. Each of these three subcategories need to be separately analyzed for a better understanding of they affect the grade. My research has just started and therefore I am not able to comment accurately on superfluous positions or pay scale.
5. 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. But the county doesn’t have to assume that security cost. Would you reduce the county’s share? Alternately, do you pledge to preserve that split for the duration of your term?
The School Resource Deputies are a benefit to not just the schools, but the entire community as a whole, and as such, it is appropriate for the County Commission and the City of Palm Coast to offset these costs. The cost-sharing agreement allows the school district to meet the state mandate for the required security presence at each school. This agreement frees up money the school district can use for other essential services. The personal relationships and mentoring the School Resource Deputies provide reaches out into the community, outside the school campus walls, keeping our neighborhoods safer.
I will continue to work with the School Board to efficiently share costs for School Resource Officers to keep our schools and communities safe.
6. Evaluate the county’s long-term plan to save its beaches. It signed on to a $100 million beach renourishment plan for just 2.6 miles of beach just in Flagler Beach. The cost is expected to increase by the tens of millions of dollars, with half that cost over the next four or five decades the county’s responsibility. 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?
Let’s continue to work with the state and federal governments to protect Flagler beaches and our beachside tourism and business economy. The beach is a huge part of our identity and tourism draw. The economic benefits of a beach renourishment plan are crucial to Flagler and our beach community. The alternative is the loss of A1A as we know it, the loss of businesses, and tourism loss.
We need to continue to leverage State and Federal dollars for the benefit of our beach community. Additionally, reserves should be set aside to pay for future repairs. Long term, we need to incorporate suggestions as outlined in the “Resilient Flagler County” report. This report was prepared by the Northeast Regional Planning Council for Flagler County and the River to Sea TPO in 2018 to build resiliency against flooding and sea level rise.
The report you mention is an important document that explicitly acknowledges sea rise and outlines strategies to mitigate it, down to revising the county’s land use rules, but it does not address paying for any of the strategies, which may explain why governments have ignored it since 2018. Can you cite one or two strategies you would want to see implemented in your four years, and how–putting state and federal grants aside, because they’re in short supply–you’d pay for them? With that report making no bones about actual flood levels during major events by 2040–almost 5 feet at Flagler Beach’s Wickline Center, 5 feet at the Flagler Beach Police Department, nearly 2 feet at the county’s Station 41 in the Hammock–Do you think we’re approaching the time, as a coastal community, for a sea-rise tax to pay for these strategies, if preserving A1A and the county’s tourism is the goal?
Not all strategies require capital investment, so moving forward on some recommendations can start immediately. The report states that the Flagler County Comprehensive Plan does not address sea level rise, nor even include the words “sea level rise”. This is another reason to start a review of the comprehensive plan.
In 2013, NOAA developed a report, “What will Adaptation Cost? An Economic Framework for Coastal Community Infrastructure”, that provides a framework for evaluating impacts and establishing costs. The report lays out next steps to help communities, like Flagler, prepare an action plan.
The time is right to have the discussion on how to build a resilient community and how to pay for the infrastructure. The Florida legislature passed the first climate bill this year, SB178, and Governor DeSantis created a new executive position, Chief Resilience Officer, to coordinate climate research and planning. There is now state level support to assist coastal communities.
The Environmentally Sensitive Land Fund has been a success, helping preserve sensitive lands for future generations. There are currently three million dollars available for land purchases. One problem with the ESL fund language is that it does not address maintenance and land management costs. It does provide limited funds to construct public access to the sites for residents, but maintenance costs fall on the already limited general revenue budget. I would like to see the ESL Fund language modified to incorporate allocations for maintenance & management of acquired lands. With proper access and maintenance, these natural gems can provide additional recreational opportunities for residents and eco-tourism.
We need to continue to work with our supporting governmental agencies such as the St Johns River Water Management District and Regional Planning Council to study ground water quality and plan for a sustainable drinking water source. (2007 Water Supply Plan)
A community wide review of the Comprehensive Plan and land development code are overdue. There are opportunities to strengthen environmental protection during these reviews. We must continue working with governmental partners on environmental protection planning issues.
8. The population of Flagler County has increased almost two and one half times since the main library opened in 2001. Yet current funding for the library is approximately the same as it was in 2007. What are you willing to do to restore some financial balance to the system, reflective of the 50,000 cardholders it serves? Library administration and the Library Board of Trustees have determined that a library branch is badly needed in the southern part of the county. The county has picked out a site near the Government Services Building, but year after year has not funded it. What are you willing to do to see that a library branch is constructed?
Libraries can be so much more than stores of books and information. I would like to see a facility that is more than just a library, but a community building that is flexible and is able to adapt to evolving technology. I came across an article, “Five Lessons for Libraries Looking to Innovate in the 21st Century” by Laura Sue Wilansky, and was amazed at the opportunities available for current library designs that include collaborative spaces that embrace innovation, experimentation, social services and public meeting spaces.
While a location for the library has been secured, there is much work to be done, such as public input on site and building design and a review of best practices for current library innovation. Funding is the main hurdle, especially with an existing commitment to build a new Sheriff Operations Center. The County will need to be creative to find funding for this investment.
You essentially restated the premise of the question, reinforcing the question itself: what are you willing to do with the county budget, what priorities are you willing to shuffle, to ensure that the library is built?
I do not think there is question about the need for a second library to be built, the question is when. My conversations with the community indicate support, but reluctance to overextend ourselves to pay for it. Refer back to the “Taxpayer Accountability and Transparency Project” report and our “D” rating for county DEBT.
9. For all the county’s claims of tackling homelessness, it has done little more than push the homeless to different encampments after fencing in the public library site on the claim, later proven inoperable, that it would build a sheriff’s district office there. What’s your plan for homelessness?
Data and research are evolving daily on ways to efficiently reduce or eliminate homelessness. Studies have shown that it is more expensive to ignore homelessness than it is to address the issue head-on. Currently, the Volusia/Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless is “the administrative agency for Volusia and Flagler Counties, designed to procure, distribute, and monitor grants and other funding, and to provide oversight to agencies in the community who provide direct services to the homeless and those at risk of homelessness”. (vfcch.org)
As such, I will work with the community and VFCCH to address issues within the homeless community. I will commit to working with existing shelters and government agencies to ensure sustainable cold weather shelters.
As stated above in my three goals, the previous economic development arrangement was flawed and disbanding it was the appropriate action. I have issues with how it was handled, but in the end, the department’s lack of transparency and accountability doomed it.
I am intrigued by the “GrowFL” statewide initiative, that “works to develop small but growing companies with high job creation potential” (GrowFL.com). Using the strategies established in this program, we can adapt it locally into a “GrowFlagler” program to help our small and growing businesses in Flagler County.
Any new initiative would require public input on department budgets, transparency, and accountability/performance metrics to ensure a return on investment.
11. Evaluate the performance of County Administrator Jerry Cameron, listing strengths, weaknesses and areas of concern. In the next four years the commission will very likely face another search, given Cameron’s Methusalahian status. What skills will define the sort of administrator you will look for?
Mr. Cameron was hired on a short term basis to get the County out of the mess of the previous administration and solve ongoing problems hanging over the Commission’s heads. Getting out of failed land acquisitions, solving the Sheriff Operations Center problem. fixing the Plantation Bay utility and resolving the Captains BBQ lawsuit were some of the large issues on the table when he arrived. Many of these have been resolved and some are ongoing. The next board will have to navigate the results of the recent decisions, which have lasting consequences.
I have enjoyed my conversations with Mr. Cameron. I find him highly intelligent and thorough in his analysis. I look forward to working with him to set Flagler on the right path for a bright future.
The next administrator first and foremost must have a track record of being a problem solver. The person must be able to leverage technology for the benefit of the residents and be a good communicator. I want to see a person that places importance on the strategic planning process, sets achievable goals and metrics to hold departments accountable and will report annually to the public on how the County has met, or didn’t meet, their goals.
What is your evaluation of his handling of the hiring of the “chief of staff,” given that he involved commissioners but kept it secret, but for reporting that he did not welcome? Knowing your track record for openness on the school board, would you have been comfortable as an elected official being involved in such a closed process–whatever its aims?
I would have advised Mr. Cameron to make the call for Chief of Staff on his own, without commissioner influence.
12. We currently have five white Republican men as county commissioners on a commission that’s never elected a Black or Latino member, though every other local government has seen minorities elected. Does the commission have a diversity problem? Explain how you have reached or would reach out specifically to constituencies that don’t mirror the commission’s demographics.
I had this diversity conversation with Howard Holley, a local businessman and former candidate for County Commission. I appreciate his thoughts on electing minorities and sharing his experiences as a black candidate for County Commission.
A long range step in recruiting minorities to leadership positions is to foster that excitement for public service, starting at the high school level. County directors, administrators and commissioners can spend more time in the local schools mentoring students and speaking to classes about local government.
We can encourage and recruit minority residents to leadership positions on volunteer and appointed boards. This an often overlooked opportunity where residents can become more familiar with county operations.
I would like to create a Minority Student Leadership Intern position, where minority students have access to commissioners and county departments, learn government processes and develop a community service project annually. This program could also lead to more minority employees and department leaders.
13. Should you be held to account for what you display on your social media pages any differently than for what you would say anywhere public? Do you have different standards of behavior between the way you’d conduct yourself as an elected official—in a meeting, at an official function—as opposed to on your social media platforms?
Yes, elected officials should be held accountable for what we display on social media. I have personal social media accounts and community outreach social media accounts, and I treat them the same, portraying a professional image and dealing with people respectfully. I live by the Golden Rule, and that applies online.
Social Media has grown exponentially since I was first elected to the school board. It is a different place than it was 12 years ago, however, my online behavior has remained the same…courteous, polite and helpful.
14. 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, or faced any investigative or disciplinary action through a professional board such as the bar or a medical board? If so, please explain, including cases where charges or claims did not lead to conviction or disciplinary action.
15. This additional question is specific to you: Your wife Luci Dance is part of the executive administrative staff, answering to County Administrator Kerry Cameron, and playing an important role as a liaison with commissioners. Her record by all accounts is stellar and is not in question. But does your position not pose a potential conflict of interest, should you become commissioner, with the potential or appearance of favoritism, and a potential for other issues? Will you request that she be reassigned?
The county administrator recently realigned duties in the administrative office, and she now works exclusively for the county administrator and no longer has any work responsibilities aligned to the commissioners.
As you mentioned, my wife’s work is stellar, and her exemplary work ethic is well documented, as she has a track record of implementing efficiencies and problem solving to the benefit of county operations.