Sims Jones is a candidate for Palm Coast City Council, District 2, running against Theresa Carli Pontieri, Shauna Kanter and Alan Lowe.
The District 4 seat is also up, with Cathy Heighter and Fernando Melendez vying for it. But since only two candidates are running, that race will only be on the November ballot, along with the potential candidates in a runoff from the District 2 race.
As in 2018, both races are for open seats. Victor Barbosa, who was elected to a two-year term to complete the term of Jack Howell, resigned the District 2 seat in March. Eddie Brabnquinho chose not to run for re-election in District 4.
With the 2018 election, the entire council had turned over in just four years. With the 0222 election, three more seats, including that of the mayor, will have turned over again, leaving Nick Klufas as the council member with the most seniority, and the only council member to have won re-election.
This is a non-partisan, at-large election. That means all registered voters in Palm Coast, regardless of party or non-party affiliation–Democrats, Republicans, independents and others–may cast a ballot for Palm Coast council elections, even though the district winner ostensibly represents that particular district.
Palm Coast council members serve four years. Until November, they were to be paid $9,600 a year, $11,400 for the mayor, not including a monthly “telecommunications” allowance. In April, the council voted itself a 151 percent raise. Starting with the first paycheck after the election, council members will be paid $24,097, plus health benefits (not included in the 151 percent calculation), plus the telecommunication allowance of $910 per year, plus a car allowance of $1,196 per year, for a total pay of $26,203 per year, plus a 2.5 percent increase per 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. Interviews of candidates who competed in the primary ran in July. 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.
|To vote: see a sample ballot here. Early voting is between Aug. 13 and Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at four sites in the county, listed here. You may vote early at any of the four sites regardless of your precinct location. To vote by mail, request your mail-in ballot here. Because of the Legislature's new law, restricting voting convenience, drop boxes are available, but only to a limited degree. The ballot drop box at the Elections Office will be monitored by a staff member beginning 60 days prior to the election, through Election Day. This drop box will no longer be available after office hours or on weekends, except during the early voting period. Other drop boxes will be available at early voting locations, but only during the days of early voting, and only during voting hours. Mail ballots must be received in the Elections Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. If returning your ballot by mail, please allow at least ten days for delivery. A postmark does not extend this deadline. You may track your ballot here. All other election-procedure related inquiries can be answered at the Elections Office's website.
The Questions in Summary: Quick Links
- Method and philosophy
- Needs and wants
- Housing affordability
- Denise Bevan
- Rap sheet
Place and Date of Birth: Brooklyn New York */10/1956.
Current job: Pastor Gods Love Ministry.
Party Affiliation: Democrat.
Financial Disclosures: See Jones’s financial disclosure here.
Resume: None turned in.
Website: On Facebook.
1. What makes you qualified to be a city council member? How have you specifically prepared yourself to be ready to succeed from day one? Tell us about you as a person: your personality, your temperament, your foibles: what character flaw do you bring to the council? Who do you admire most in office today among elected officials in Flagler County—the person you’d consider a model of leadership? Who in the world at large (beyond Flagler), and among the living, do you consider a role model of political or intellectual leadership?
My work and experience with this community makes me qualified for the Council. To prepare I stay in touch with the people and all the current issues that confront us as a city. I admire Mayor Catherine Robinson of Bunnell since she fights for the people, and all of the concerns that they have with their immediate lives. In the world at large I admire Stacey Abrams for all of her efforts and progress in all that she does for the people in Georgia.
Sally Hunt, District 1
Jill Woolbright, District 1
Lance Alred, District 2
Will Furry, District 2
Courtney VandeBunte, District 2
Christy Chong, District 4
Leann Pennington, District 4
Janet McDonald, District 2
Greg Hansen, District 2
Denise Calderwood, District 2
Palm Coast City Council, District 2
Theresa Carli Pontieri
2. What is in council member’s power, and what isn’t? What is your understanding of when and how, if ever, you may direct or in any way exercise any authority over administrative staff other than the city manager and the city attorney? How would you deal with a problem, perceived or real, regarding a city employee, a manager (not the city manager) or a director?
In terms of power (The Councilman’s job/position) I am concerned primarily with honesty, integrity and transparency. I am only interested in doing what is best for the people of Palm Coast. A Councilman or woman does not hold any direct power authority over administrative staff, period. Any problem regarding this issue, can be brought forth on the agenda and to the people in order to do what the people want on the basis of communication, research and popular demand by the citizenry.
You would allow administrative issues or problem employees to be dealt with through “popular demand by the citizenry”? Is your role as a member of the council limited to being a conduit of popular will?
I believe that administrative problems should be dealt with by the city manager. My role on the council is to look at all aspects, staff recommendation, and citizen input, that will help me make good decision for the city.
3. How do you describe your governing method and philosophy: how do you (or will you) prepare for each council meeting and workshop, what is your analytical method, issue by issue, and what drives your decision-making? What role do politics, ideology or immovable principles have in your decision-making approach?
Regarding my principles, philosophy and preparation for meetings and workshops, I will always read and study items and or possible votes on the agenda and talk to people in my district. I will always vote with the “greater good” being at the heart and soul of my decisions.
But what defines the greater good? Can you cite an example of a recent policy or land use decision where something other than the greater good, as you see it, prevailed?
Let’s look at cell towers in the city. It is something needed for safety and communication of the city. There are those who are against it but the greater good is what is needed.
1) Communication, 2) Housing and 3) Council image.
- Communication: It has been said to me that people feel like talking to the council is like talking to five paintings. I would work toward healing the communication between the citizens and the council at the meetings. We need to improve our image.
- Housing: The need for affordable housing is not being address. There are counties and city forming task force to deal with it. We need to look it this issue now. The problem is all over and we will have to deal with at sooner or later.
- Council image: We have to learn how to leave our ego at the door. We are elected to work for the city, not to fight and argue with each other, get up and walk out, or disrespect one another. We are suppose to be about the business of the city.
5. Candidates and council members hear the phrase “needs, not wants” from many constituents, usually as a criticism of some specific proposal to spend money on a project the speaker considers a “want.” Please give two or three examples of what you consider “needs” and how you would address them as a council member, and two or three examples of “wants” that you believe are important enough to justify the required spending.
“Needs not wants”, is an interesting concept and phenomenon. I will make the decisions I need to, again with the specific issues that come up on the agenda when elected that need to be voted upon. To answer regarding two or three specific things right now…simply…whatever I feel is in the best interest of the people in the city of Palm Coast.
That doesn’t give prospective voters much to work with. You’re not, in other words, giving us an idea either of your understanding of specific problem issues at or confronting the city (do you consider the city to be perfectly run?) or how you’d go about tackling them. Can you be more specific?
I think the city in running ok but can be better. I feel that we need more follow through. Some things are taking to long. Like the splash park. We need to deal with it before moving on to other thing, again we need follow through.
6. The city’s budget, like all local government budgets, will likely face revenue shortfalls in an expected recession. How will you make up the lost revenue? Where do you stand on property tax increases, including adopting tax rates that are not at rollback (which amounts to a tax increase under Florida law)? Short of new sources of revenue, and if you intend to stick to a rolled back tax rate, which nearly limits any growth in the budget, what city programs would you eliminate and what service levels would you reduce to achieve that?
Lost revenue right now can be made up by making the developers paying up front in order to continue this building boom at the very least. Also, the increase in property values will add extra funds to the coffers of the city yet we must curtail our spending and learn to be thriftier with our city tax dollars. I am not certain as to how people feel about elimination of programs or level of service, so this will take a little time for me to decide upon.
Make the developers pay what up-front that they do not already pay? If you are referring to impact fees, the issue of up-front payments (or proportionate share mitigation) applies only to school impact fees, with which the city has nothing to do other than collection. But all impact fees that the city does collect go to specific development projects, not to the general fund. How would you address a shortfall in the general fund? The scenario you describe means that you support tax increases by way of keeping the property tax rate where it is to reap the benefits of increasing values. Is that the case? Would you increase the tax rate in the absence of improving values?
I don’t want to raise taxes on residence, but again we need to bring in businesses to improve out tax base.
7. The city’s golf course, its tennis center and its pool serve a fraction of people, and all at a fee, but are heavily subsidized by general fund dollars, are in constant need of expensive upkeep, and, as in the tennis center’s case, in the midst of lavish expansion. Are you supportive of those amenities? How will you balance spending tax dollars for pools, tennis, golf or pickle ball when so many people don’t use these facilities?
Regarding pickle ball, tennis, golf course and pools there is a total complete review that must be done on the basis of the people’s needs and requests…or “needs not wants.” We must face the realities of the diversities within our city and the needs of everyone must be considered on equal comparative footings. We must balance spending on the basis of use and actual needs for everyone versus the few with special interests.
Would you have voted against the recent approval of the expanded regional racquet center into a community-center focused amenity with a trailhead, and an expanded tennis center with pickle ball courts?
No. I believe it is a good idea for the citizen of Palm Coast. Something for the community.
8. Palm Coast’s population has grown over 30 percent in the past decade and a half. A certain amount of NIMBYism—not in my back yard—is a recurring theme of existing residents opposing further development, and not just apartment complexes. Do existing residents have a right to close the development gates behind them, when Palm Coast as ITT envisioned it in the late 60s was planned for 600,000 residents? How do you define overdevelopment, and how do you define smart growth, with existing examples in the city. What percentage of our housing stock should be single-family homes as opposed to apartments?
Population growth (and a long time food crisis made more immediate with all of the recent events) pending on us and the world forces us, and therefore we must seek out sincere compromise in these very areas. Percentages I cannot determine alone and would have to be evaluated by the council through professionals as to all the specifics regarding housing. Yes, we do need affordable housing for our essential workers! This is an obvious reality. Yes, citizens also have a “need” and right to have a true voice in the further development of the city. The numbers have been and are more and more astounding. We have been growing exponentially too long. Overdevelopment and smart growth need to have more research and planning done in terms of where that actually stands here in this wonderful city of Palm Coast. We must retain our natural environment; trails, parks, bike paths, natural trees, fauna and our overall environment more closely and serve them with great stewardship more carefully…waterways included of course.
In the very same sentence you say that “overdevelopment” needs more research, while also referring to “this wonderful city.” How do you square the two, and isn’t the stewardship you refer to what the the city’s planning staff is providing through its analysis ahead of developments? Do property owners not have the right to develop land already slated for development? Are you supportive of Council member Eddie Branquinho’s automatic no votes against development?
I think we need to be careful of overdevelopment because of infrastructure, water, and traffic, and I don’t agree with Eddie Branquinho, on housing. We need more affordable housing.
9. With the Flagler Realtors Association’s May 2022 report showing median house prices at $400,000, up from $294,000 a year ago, the city faces an affordable housing shortfall. How do you propose to diversify Palm Coast’s housing options? By what criteria would you approve or reject apartment complexes? Would you approve raising the density and height of multi-family, or apartment, structures in select areas of the city zoned for the purpose?
Real Estate is up about 25 percent. Home ownership is becoming more difficult yet again for many due to inflation of the market and increased cost for loans and mortgage costs especially. We must find a middle ground and again come to a compromise on how to proceed on this issue. Government is for all the people, with the consent of the governed, government is not for and by the few for power and developing their special interests…this is what must change and must be heard in the City Council.
General principles aside, the question is specific to affordable housing, apartments and density rules. Focusing on the latter two: would there be any criteria by which you’d reject apartments, and do you support higher density rules, including relaxed height restrictions, to enable additional apartment complexes?
Sims Jones did not answer the question.
10. Palm Coast’s saltwater canals may need dredging. It’s never been done in the 50-year existence of the city and its ITT antecedent. But the canals—like those recreational amenities mentioned above–are limited to a few neighborhoods. If and when it comes to that, who should pay for the dredging, and through what taxing mechanism?
The dredging of the salt water canals is a very sensitive issue, for many reasons. Financially, this will have to be done at a huge cost and there is also the environmental impact and so on and so forth. The municipality certainly has responsibilities but I believe we really need to think out of the box on this in order to find an acceptable solution to taking care of this big problem with the canals and ultimately to all the citizens of Palm Coast. Bipartisanship is not dead and the City Council needs to communicate better within the body itself and with all of its citizens.
I choose to stay neutral on determining a rating of Denise Bevan since I am not able to ascertain my position at this time.
The question goes to your attendance at meetings and observations of the city manager in action, or your meetings with her, if you have had any. Can you assess Ms. Bevan from that perspective?
My observation is that she is doing a good job and I have not seen anything bad concerning her.
12. Palm Coast relies on the sheriff for policing. Evaluate that relationship. Do you consider the steep expansion of the Palm Coast policing force (and budget) justified in a low-crime era? Do you favor an independent police department for the city, now or in the near future?
The relationship for today and in the future relative to the Sheriff’s department needs to stay under constant review. I do believe spending needs to be controlled. The future (population growth) will determine if a private municipal police department might become reality…if we do continue at the current numbers of people moving into Palm Coast, then yes, I see that as potentially occurring. Nevertheless, planning, strategy and execution will determine the outcome.
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, or faced any investigative or disciplinary action through a professional board such as the bar or a medical board? Have you ever been demoted? If so, please explain, including cases where charges or claims did not lead to conviction or disciplinary action.
No. I have never been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, nor faced civil action or bankruptcies or any kind of disciplinary action by any professional board medical board. Nor have I ever been demoted.
2022 Election Candidates, Flagler County
|County Commission District 2||Greg Hansen, incumbent (Rep)||Janet McDonald (Rep)||Denise Calderwood (Rep)|
|County Commission District 4||Joe Mullins, incumbent (Rep)||Leann Pennington (Rep)||Jane Gentile-Youd (NPA)|
|School Board District 1||Jill Woolbright, incumbent||Sally Hunt|
|School Board District 2||Lance Alred||Will Furry||Courtney VandeBunte|
|School Board District 4||Trevor Tucker, incumbent||Christy Chong|
|Palm Coast City Council Seat 2||Theresa Carli Pontieri||Sims Jones||Shauna Kanter / Alan Lowe|
|Palm Coast City Council Seat 4||Cathy heighter||Fernando Melendez|