On the campaign trail last year John Rogers was driving somewhere in West Volusia with Dennis Craig. Rogers hadn’t yet publicly announced that he’d be running for the Bunnell City Commission. He was helping Craig’s campaign for circuit judge. “You’re going to win,” Rogers told Craig, “and I’m going to win, and you’re going to swear me in.”
So it happened. Craig defeated Joe Horrox, and Rogers was the second-highest vote-getter in Bunnell’s election last month, with incumbent Jenny Crain-Brady easily winning reelection in a field of five. This evening, performing his first such ceremony as a circuit judge, Craig swore in Rogers and Crain-Brady.
“May of you may not know but I am the new judge in Flagler County,” Craig told the commission and a small group of some two dozen people gathered for the occasion, including Crain-Brady’s son, Connor (“this is the only time you’ll see him in front of a judge,” Crain-Brady quipped about her 13 year old), and Rogers’ wife and three of his children. Craig thanked Rogers for helping him on the trail, and congratulated the new and still-serving commissioners for their service: “Local government is the backbone of the business that makes America strong,” Craig said.
This swearing-in was in sharp contrast with Bunnell’s last one in 2009, when three of the city’s elected–Commissioners Elbert Tucker and Daisy Henry, and Mayor Catherine Robinson–were all reelected after drawing no opponents. But one ritual was renewed Monday evening: cake and coffee were served after the swearing in, and for a few minutes commissioners old and new mingled, though some keeping more pronounced distances from rivals than others.
Jimmy Flynt kept his seat on the commission until the last moment of his eight-year tenure. He served one final time on the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency board (the commission serving as the CRA board) immediately before the regular meeting, then accepted Robinson’s final words before the swearing-in. “I know you’re not going far,” Robinson told Flynt, “so I look forward to your phone calls and the issues of concern you’ll bring to the table.”
Bill Baxley, who lost to Rogers by a mere three votes, was in the audience, lending his congratulations to the winners. Baxley has applied to serve on the city’s planning and zoning board, which–like the commission election–has been drawing many applicants, in contrast with previous years.
Rogers’s first act as a commissioner was to second Tucker’s motion to re-name Crain-Brady vice mayor. The motion passed unanimously.
As Bunnell meetings go, this was a brief one. The commission agreed, with two unanimous votes, to join its voice in support of SunRail, the embattled commuter rail line the Legislature approved for Central Florida until Gov. Rick Scott signaled that he would veto that project. “I don’t want to pay $4 a gallon for gas,” Crain-Brady said, though Tucker was less excited by the project.
“If you think this is going to solve the problem, this is a drop in the bucket,” Tucker said. “I support this, but only to a point that it pays for itself in the long run.”
The commission also lent its voice in opposition to the Florida Department of Transportation’s proposed seawall for Flagler Beach.
“Thank you for running for office,” Robinson said to her colleagues at the end of the meeting. “Thank you for being willing to be vulnerable up here. It’s not always a piece of cake.” And with that, Robinson ended the meeting.