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Flagler Beach City Commission Election: 3 Candidates Mostly of 1 Mind for 2 Open Seats

| February 28, 2011

A congenial bunch: From left, Phil Busch, Marshall Shupe and Kim Carney, the three candidates for Flagler Beach City Commission, before their forum at the Flagler Women's Club earlier this month. (© FlaglerLive)

A congenial bunch: From left, Phil Busch, Marshall Shupe and Kim Carney, the three candidates for Flagler Beach City Commission, before their forum at the Flagler Women's Club earlier this month. (© FlaglerLive)

Next week, Flagler Beach voters will elect two new members to their city commission, as Ron Vath and Joy McGrew opted not to run again. Three candidates are in the running: Phil Busch, Kim Carney and Marshall Shupe.

The differences between them, on the issues, are not vast. As is usually the case in Flagler Beach, differences are defined more by personalities and baggage than by particular issues: Busch is the husband of former city commissioner Randy Busch. His theme: “I want Flagler Beach to be a happy city.” Carney, who’s run once before, is identified with the chamber of commerce as a strong voice for business. She’s big on fiscal restraint (“conserve the reserve”) and promoting the city. Shupe describes himself as “the new one.” He’s been in Flagler County since 2004, and bought a house in Flagler Beach in late 2009.

In a recent forum where they appeared together, at the Flagler Women’s Club, they were a lot more in agreement on most key issues than not. All three want economic development. All three want to be more welcoming to businesses. All three want Flagler Beach to remain the rustic, quiet town it’s been. That paradox was left hanging.

Watch Phil Busch
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By far the leading question of the evening (at least eight people wrote a variation of the same question on cards based on which the candidates were asked to reply) was where the candidates stood on the Bruce Campbell issue. Campbell is the acting city manager, named to the post in January when McGrew, the departing commissioner, switched her vote and agreed to give him a temporary shot at the job. The entire commission had previously punted the permanent appointment to after the March election.

One after the other, the three candidates strongly endorsed Campbell and tried to outdo each other with their enthusiasm: “Go Bruce Campbell,” Busch said, raising his fist in the air. “I’m for him. I wrote the petition that was passed around the city to get him to be hired as the city manager.” Carney was more measured. “I was not impressed with the way the city handled the search, nor the selection. I was very pleased with the end result,” she said, citing Campbell’s acting appointment. She’d conduct a six-month evaluation of his performance and make a permanent decision after that. She’s not interested in another search. “I’m very happy with his performance so far,” Carney said. “Bruce is probably going to be the guy.” Shupe said he’d also oppose another national search, putting his support behind a permanent appointment of Campbell.

That may still not be enough for Campbell: the city commission needs a 4-1 majority to permanently appoint a city manager. Two commissioners, Jane Mealy and John Feind, the commission chairman, have so far resisted Campbell’s permanent appointment, though it’s possible that Feind, who prizes consensus, might lean toward compromising with a short-term contract that would eliminate the word “acting” from Campbell’s job description. What’s clearer from the commission race is that if it had been a referendum on Campbell, that referendum is already over, given the candidates’ unanimity on the matter.

The three candidates were also of one mind on the city’s fire department—keep it—and on the recurring matter of a new city hall—don’t build it, at least not now. The candidates don’t dispute the need for a city hall eventually. But this is not the time for it. The consolidation of the Flagler Beach Fire Department with that of the county is a recurrent rumor, even though the county has shown no overt interest in taking over, and there has been no consensus on the Flagler Beach commission to let that happen. Still, the fears recur from time to time.

Watch Kim Carney
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If Carney is the strongest voice for business among the candidates, Shupe, a volunteer fireman in the city, is the strongest advocate for the fire department. “Once that truck goes across the bridge, the county doesn’t want any volunteers,” Shupe said. “We would be deactivated, so absolutely not.” Carney called having a fire department a right. “Sometimes people make statements about it without having studied it,” she said. “It’s like our parking meters here. Everyone was up for revenue and parking meters. We did a cost analysis and we found out that we would lose money with parking meters.”

Busch, however, was not as categorical regarding the fire department: “Most important is the safety of our citizens, and I think the fire department creates a very good means to support the citizens here. From a cost-effective standpoint, that’s the key to it. Can it be done cost-effectively, is it being done cost-effectively. If it is, I love having a fire department here, but everything has to be looked at like we all look at our own budgets, and wherever we can save money while protecting the citizens, let’s do it.”

Economic development is also on voters’ mind. Asked how they would bring it to the city, the three candidates focused on what’s possible locally rather than on overarching philosophies. They each spoke of “streamlining” the process when business wants to open a new door in the city.

“Businesses coming to Flagler Beach–I think we’re not missing the boat here,” Carney said. “I think we need to capitalize a little bit more on making our city and making our permitting department, anybody that helps with the businesses, just tweak them a little bit to get them a little bit more friendly, get the process a little bit smoother, bring in some money to hopefully give some incentives. Wouldn’t it be nice if a business on A1A that was going to be closed down for a few months because of a construction project could benefit from a pool of revenue that we might have to say, thanks for keeping your doors open. We need to provide a well-educated staff that can deal with the businesses when they come in so they’re not dealing with two or three different opinions on how to get their permits. We need to make it streamlined, and we need to promote our city so people know that we’re here.”

Watch Marshall Shupe
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Shupe was not as specific. And Busch proposed “a complete checklist” from the building department to expand on Carney’s idea of clarifying the process with new businesses, along with a mentoring system for new businesses. He then threw out broader generalities that had more rhetorical appeal with voters’ ears than realistic connections with how the city is run: “Low taxes attract business, low gas prices attract business, and this city, this county is not working toward. We’re looking at raising our taxes and our gas prices are outrageous. Let’s bring them down and attract those businesses.” But property taxes have been raised, after being lowered over several years, to counter the effect of plummeting property values and plummeting tax revenue, and no county or city has any leverage over gas prices set by strife in the Middle East or profit-gouging by refineries in the Midwest.

One question sought to give candidates a little less wiggle room on the Flagler Beach paradox: the city wants more businesses and business activity, but residents also prize their town for its sleepy, rustic feel. They don’t want a mini Fort Lauderdale. How, candidates were asked, would they ensure that tourism and business development doesn’t “encroach on residents’ rights to quiet enjoyment of their property.” The question was made especially relevant in light of recent controversies over noise issues from local restaurants that provide entertainment. (A community meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on that issue in Flagler Beach, at city hall.)

Each candidate believes it’s a primarily residential town. Each spoke of enforcing the city’s codes and coexisting with businesses “to make sure that we have a fair solution in our codes for everyone,” in Busch’s words. “I don’t know what our city would be like without businesses, entertainment,” Carney said, though she said she would hold businesses responsible for what they promised, if such promises were offered, to abate the noise they produce. “We have to have the authority to take action,” she said.

“We need our businesses, we want our restaurants, we want our entertainment, but at the same time we want our peace and quiet,” Shupe said, restating the dilemma rather than providing solutions. The candidates each then, when asked what they’d preserve in town, restated their support for safeguarding such things as the pier, the beach and the town’s feel. But how they’d do that in the face of pressures to develop was left unaddressed.

“I wouldn’t change anything over there, in the main area,” Carney said, citing the redeveloped downtown area that’s just been remade. Shupe: “I don’t think we can make major changes because I don’t think they fit in our area. We are a relatively small area, and a condensed city, and I think it needs to stay that way.” Busch: ““I like us as a small beach town, I like us as a retro Florida town, I think that’s where we belong.”

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18 Responses for “Flagler Beach City Commission Election: 3 Candidates Mostly of 1 Mind for 2 Open Seats”

  1. Flagler Citizen says:

    Business development is the most important issue this town has to face. Today is the last day for the ACE Hardware store, here in town, as they are moving so, another business leaves the Beach. As for the Fire Department issue, Shupe is right on target with his assessment of the view the County has on the volunteer members. What many citizens overlook is that many times the responding members live only a block or 2 away and, from experience, the quicker the response and initial treatment, the better the chances for a succesful end result.

  2. SWW says:

    I would hope that these canidates would realize that they could not have a more LOYAL and DEDICATED bunch of STATE CERTIFIED VOLUNTEER FIRE FIGHTERS for their Town. It is NOT a MONEY thing it is the LOYALTY that these men and women bring to this town when they give their time to be along side our paid guys to care for our citizens. This is actually a dead issue because if the movement ever got serious I would bet that it would be brought by a referendum vote of the citizens of FB and they will not let it be given away. There are certain people in town that like to stir the pot and get the members upset about this but it is not going to happen.
    Businesses are a must in town and everything that needs to be done to get it must be done.
    The city needs to stand behind their code ordinances and not change them to fit the complaint.

  3. lawabidingcitizen says:

    I wonder if Ace Hdwr’s decision to move out of town had anything to do with our local chubby motorcycle cop hiding behind their signage. In communities where sanity prevails, local businesses pay the city for use of its facilities for events . Here in Flagler Beach, the opposite prevails. We pay for event and the salaries/operating expenses of the event coordinators, we put up with the noise, trash and traffic and we continue to elect and re-elect the people who make it all possible.

  4. SWW says:

    Well lawabidingcitizen all you do is bitch about the city. just do NOT VOTE in this election then you won’t have any part in electing the people that are hurting your feelings and you won’t have the right to bitch and you can just sit and talk to yourself.

  5. lambert owner says:

    ACE is closing? Where have I been, I love that store!

  6. jon says:

    Great… Hope you all remember when Randy busch was commissioner… She was terrible and her husband shares her views. He will bring Flagler Beach to the ground. A small town Obama for Flagler Beach, seriously think about who you vote for because Phil Busch is NOT a choice the residents should consider.

  7. Pam says:

    It’s a sad reality that polotics causes many people to spread viciouse stories and outrite lies about good people trying to serve their community. I am referring to the rumors about the Buschs and about how terrible Randy was as a commissioner and Phil was a member of CCFB. Neither is true.The accusers offer nothing specific to talk about because they know of no instances where Mrs. Busch was anything but a great commissioner for this city. Problem is that most people don’t know what the issues were then and how hard Mrs. Busch worked sending out reports to the citizens after every commission meeting. There were no secrets then, just hard work. The story tellers are trying to connect the Buschs to the CCFB as if that group were a menace to society, like being a communist , a member of the KGB, or perhaps a terroist of some kind, Lets show a little decency, stop the accusations folks, get the story straight. Randy Busch was the best commission chairman we ever had in Flagler Beach and Phil has been active with city issues for many years. It is such a shame we have vicious people here trying to tear that down for political purposes.

  8. Mike Sokol says:

    Sorry but I lived thru the Concerned Citizens movement and their control of the commision and that was the worst times in Flagler Beach. Randy Bush and her group were the pits!

  9. John Smith says:

    Well Pam it is evident that you are a friend or a neighbor of the Buschs or being one of the 30 to 40 members of the CCFB, or maybe even be a newby to town. The fact is that Randy was not the best commissioner that this city has ever had, what ever dream that came from. The Busch, Bates, and Misch threesom was the worst 3 commissioners that have ever sat on that city commission being backed by the CCFB. And yes you could probably compare the CCFB to being a menace to society as they still are and trying to do it underground since now none of them admit ever being part of it. They were so bad that they made VIDEOs of them at the meetings which were ridiculous and is proof enough after watching them manipulate the city. This little city could have had more tax base by growing on the other side of the bridge but they the CCFB did not want the the west side to have more votes and thats by their own admission so we are where we are now because of it. Palm Coast is now annexing to our city limits thanks to them, but we are a happy little city as Phil Busch claims. The city of Flagler Beach is paying for the services to the Publix area and Apartment complex that is claimed by Palm Coast and gets NOTHING in RETURN thanks to the Busch, Bates and Misch commission. The CONCERNED CITIZENS OF FLAGLER BEACH have NO business in being back on the city commission. Story tellers we are NOT. Phil was active on issues when Randy was in office. Phil and Randy have been coming back to the meetings when all the hub bub started over the city manager. I have been at the meetings and he has not been there for issues other than him claiming to be the founder of the Bruce Campbell support group which we all know by FACT is ART WOOSELY. The politics of Phil Busch are that of Randy and the CCFB do not think otherwise. I know KIM CARNEY has her issues with other people but she would still be the better person to sit on one of the seats, and MARSHALL SHUPE has NO issues with anyone and is not tied to any group of realtors or businesses as he just wants to help work for a better city. Has anyone else noticed how calm and quiet the city has become since Ron Vath has decided not to run again, we just do not need that friction on the commission again. The accusations are true and the story is straight PAM.

  10. ART WOOSLEY says:

    John, Please spell my name correctly in future comments it is Woosley, and while you are at it, give the readers your real name, not an alias.
    Thank you

  11. Bigfoot says:

    If J SMITH remembers long before CCFB [ VILE THING] was created we had the same thing [Frank Rhame And all blocked the 3200 home expansion [ Price Kuhnlein and all But TRAD] said would do the town good.After this was blocked [We weren’t allowed to vote on it] but the people spoke and our QUAINT LITTLE TOWN WAS SAVED for quiet living not Then we had tremendous tax income increases [housing bubble] and in the last 4 yrs. the surpluses we had saved was mostly frittered away. Now EVERY ONE IS SCREAMING MONEY NEEDS AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO SAVE ON SPENDING. Some one has stated our fire dept MOSTLY volunteer ,COSTS $350,000 on payroll now ;5 years back it was $97,000.They did not state what the fringe cost on the actual payroll is, I think we have a full paid fire group . Forget the pornogaphy etc. So go after any old plotters of our town, encourage more town hiring and let the retired people 60% of town swing in the wind.How dare they PLOT our demise after the 2 yr. spurt. GET EM.

  12. John Smith says:

    Well ART WOOSLEY I am sorry I forgot how political correct you have to be. As for my name, I could be your neighbor or I could be your friend or maybe I am just one of your concerned citizens. It does not matter what my name is, I am someone who knows of you and your groups history and i will spread the gospel truth about it.

  13. John Smith says:

    Bigfoot, there is 1 paid chief + 6 fultime paid FF 2 per shift and 3 partime FF, there are 25 Volunteers contrary to what some people might say. It does not matter what the budget is to keep the FD going these people are dedicated to this city and it is not just a job to them.

  14. Bigfoot says:

    The point is that Palm Coast cost per resident is much less than ours and [ our EMT services are already paid in full by the county] if our goal is to be the highest on all items so be it. i’ve heard that CCFB is very vile and yet they seem to be the ones who helped SAVE OUR QUAINT LITTLE TOWN. You want much more in to spend yet on the fire the sky is the limit. Did any of the fire personal picket against the strip club or were they quietly rooting it on?

  15. ConcernedMan says:

    how did this become a argument based solely on the fire dept?

  16. John Smith says:

    Bigfoot your EMT services are paid for from your taxes to the county for county services has nothing to do with the city services. And oh my god if you think the CCFB are the the best thing since bread for saving our little town you are seriously wrong. You had it right the first time they are VILE. Was there any city personel down there at the strip club NO because the city let it be known not to be involved. You need to check and see how much of your tax money goes for THE county services and what you get from them. It is actually 2 different items. As far as PC You might compare the population of 50000 to 3500 for the cost per resident. Really if it is so cheap to live in PC move there.

  17. John Smith says:


  18. Sammie says:

    I hope the new commission can do something about the hazardous surfases recently installed around our city, The worst obstacle to walk over without falling down is directly in front of city hall’s front door. To cross the side walk directly in front of the building, coming or going, you will step up, down and up again in a space of a four feet. It’s only a matter time before this ubeven surface claims a walker.

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