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Mark Richter, Flagler County Commission Candidate: The Live Interview

| August 24, 2014

Mark C. Richter. (© FlaglerLive)

Mark C. Richter. (© FlaglerLive)

Mark Richter is a candidate for the Flagler County Commission. Background on Richter’s  candidacy can be read here. Richter agreed to participate in the Live interview, submitted a few responses to some questions in two separate emails, then stopped his submissions altogether. The responses are below.

Two commission seats are up this year. In District 2, two-year incumbent Frank Meeker is in a rematch with Dennis McDonald in the Aug. 26 Republican primary. Only Republicans get to vote in that contest. No Democrats are running. The winner will face Howard Holley in the November 4 general election.

In District 4, first-term incumbent Republican Nate McLaughlin is facing a challenge from Richter. No Democrat chose to run. The winner will face Denise Calderwood, like Holley a Republican who chose to run as an independent in the general election. Holley’s and Calderwood’s interviews will run after the primary.

Commissioners represent specific districts, but they are elected by voters across the county, including every city’s voters. A county commissioner is paid $50,222 a year. The salary is set by state law, based on county population, but paid out of local dollars.

FlaglerLive submitted identical questions to all four commission candidates, who replied in writing, with the understanding that some follow-up questions may be asked, and that all exchanges would be on the record. Each candidate was also given the opportunity to ask his or her opponent questions. Follow-up questions, when necessary, appear in italics, and may be awaiting answers.

Given Richter’s refusal to answer many questions about his background, as documented in a previous article, further answers are not likely to be forthcoming, but will be posted should they be turned in. It should also be noted that the style in which these questions were answered is far more polished and stilted than anything Richter has published under his name on his Facebook page or written us previously in emails, suggesting that he may have had help answering the questions. FlaglerLive asks candidates to answer their own, or let us know whether they have had help. 

Aug. 22 Update: Richter did not send in responses to his questions, but he did send in a response email that included in the subject line the words, “In response I ask you to read and print…” Unfortunately, FlaglerLive cannot reprint what Richter sent in, though we can link to it: All 451 words of Richter’s email are, word for word, plagiarized, without attribution, from a home-schooling website. The email steals a phrase-by-phrase analysis of the Pledge of Allegiance from Richter edited out a few lines, such as the introduction that suggests that it’s an “example of a discussion you may want to have with your home school students.”

Revealingly, he also edited out a key phrase from the discussion. The original discussion includes an explanation of the clause “Under God.” It styates, in part: “For those who say this phrase in the Pledge (some don’t) God may mean different things to different people. There are many different people who have different beliefs in our country.” Richter edited out the parenthetical, “(some don’t).” Richter also edited out the entire line about there being “different people who have different beliefs in our country.”

The Questions in Summary: Quick Links

CANDIDATE: The Basics:

Place and Date of Birth: Missouri, October 18, 1957.
Current job: Sr. Field Engineer Lockheed Martin.
Party Affiliation: Republican.
Net worth: See disclosure form.
Website: Facebook.

1. What makes you qualified to be a county commissioner?

First and foremost I am invested in this community, I own a home here and I pay taxes. I was raised with an inherent dedication to public service and I have a much more diverse and proven background than that of my opponent. As a result of being in the line of fire on the front lines of a global conflict and military war zone I have proven that I can solve arduous problems expeditiously and effectively and I will put this ability to work for the people of Flagler County. While working throughout the world and interacting with people from all walks of life, I’ve learned to think outside the box and open my mind to previously undiscovered elucidations.

You have made numerous claims about your work history but very few have been verified. Can you now provide us with a full and verifiable resume that would document the claims you are making about your work history, which you are citing directly as relevant to your qualifications as a commissioner?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

2. Tell us who you are as a person—what human qualities and shortcomings you’ll bring to the board, what your temperament is like: what would your enemies say is your best quality, and what would your friends say is your worst fault? Give is real-life examples to illustrate your answer.

I am the type of person who has a heightened sense of determination and the ability to get the job done. I think quickly on my feet and I have empathy for my fellow human. While I do have strained tolerance for contumacious apathy I am more than willing to help teach those around me by setting a positive example. My service to this country proves this. I believe my best quality is diligence and patience under fire.

Do you have any faults that may have an effect on your tenure as a commissioner?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

3. What are the three most critical issues facing the county, and where do you stand on each?

The lack of a realistic approach by the county commission in attracting light industry and jobs suitable for Flagler County.  Unnecessary and irresponsible spending. The inability of county government to operate within the confines of the existing budget.

Those are accusing and undocumented generalities. Can you be more specific about each, and explain, specifically, what you would do as commissioner to address them?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

4. What do you think county government is doing well, and how will you build on that? What do you think county government is doing poorly, and what will you do to improve matters?

Candidly speaking, the county commission is out of touch with what the people of Flagler County really want and need.  If one takes a look at the overall picture I see very little that the county government is doing well. In their operations they have been unable to achieve a level equal to that of the statu quo res erant ante bellum; instead they have only scarcely sustained a degree of mediocrity.  They have fallen prey, as many elected officials have, to the notion that they know what’s best for all of us and that we should just go about our business while they reign upon the important decisions. This coupled with exclusionary polices designed to limit public input, by referendum or otherwise, concerning major expenditures and tax increases is eroding the public trust in its elected officials. The Government is the people; meant to serve the people and all of their interests. Government is not meant to serve just a few who deem themselves most worthy. When elected I promise: aut viam inveniam aut facium, “I’ll either find a way or make one,” no more secret closed door meetings. I will not hide in the shadows as our elected officials have done in the past; I will open my doors and my mentality to discussion on all controversial and paramount issues before a decision is made for all the people; not just the few, and together we will all decide what the future holds for Flagler County.

We’re not sure what “bellum” you are referring to, what secret meetings you are referring to, or what shadows: as in the previous answer, you are making incendiary accusations entirely unsubstantiated and without a single example, and your suggestion that you’ll either “find a way or make one” reflects a disturbingly  autocratic mindset than the position you’re seeking is not suited for, being primarily based on collegiality and consensus-building.  Are you sure you are running for the right office, and if so, can you be more forthcoming with backing your accusations with evidence and examples?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

5. Give your critique, loving or not so loving, of the county’s major big works: the acquisition and re-development of the old Memorial Hospital into a Sheriff’s Operations Center, and the expansion of the jail, miscalculations about the cost included.

I suspect that the motives for the purchase of this old dilapidated hospital were not truly altruistic nor in the best interests of the people of Flagler County. That said, ultimately, the cost to the taxpayers for the purchase and renovation will be well in excess of $7 million.  There were several other already owned county properties available including the old courthouse which was rejected based on a check list prepared by “staff” to make the old hospital seem to be the best choice.

My position, until shown otherwise, is that we do not need a new jail, expanding the existing one, in conjunction with diversion programs, fewer arrests for minor violations, (where court appearance tickets could be issued) and speedy arraignments would go a long way in reducing the jail population. I consider that our commissioners hold the belief that one way to raise revenue other than increasing the taxes to exorbitant rates, is to increase our prisoner population by increasing capacity thus allowing them to make money by housing prisoners from outside of Flagler County. A proposed twenty million dollar jail is absolute absurdity and a perfect example of how this commission seems to be out of touch with reality as well as a prime example of the wasteful spending that I am against.

Can you substantiate the “belief” that commissioners are seeking to house out-of-county inmates in Flagler as a money-maker?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

6. If you have a choice between providing quality services or providing the cheapest services possible, which would you choose? Please cite examples. What services would you eliminate, what services would you expand?

The question presupposes that one should have to make a choice between quality services and services that are cost effective. If due diligence is done I believe quality services can be provided through proper management of resources and prioritization. I would certainly seek to expand emergency management services most specifically the fire services which are currently understaffed. This state of affairs puts the safety of fire fighters as well as Flagler citizens at jeopardy.  I also strongly believe that programs for the medically indigent and elderly must be maintained or expanded as needed.

At the forum at the Hilton you said that you would provide more services and cut taxes at the same time. How do you propose to do that? Can you site two or three services that you would expand, and show what sort of “proper management of resource and prioritization” you would implement?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

7. The county has been talking about economic development since the bursting of the housing bubble, and in 2011 established its own council and department. Evaluate the jobs council’s performance. What measurable outcome would point to a successful economic development effort, and what do you intend to do, as commissioner, to get to that outcome?

The fact that Flagler continues to have one of the highest unemployment rate in the state does not bode well for the jobs council’s performance. The Flagler commissioners have failed to reach out to “Cottage Industries” that would be adjunct to serving to support existing businesses here. They have also failed to attract larger commercial industries which would have certainly opened up more jobs thus forcing many residents to work outside of the county.  The health care industry is one way Flagler can grow its economy because it is huge here in Flagler County. We should attempt to attract manufacturers of medical equipment, technical schools to train nurses, and medical technicians.  The same would apply to the hospitality industry and so on. We need to reach out, look to the future and attract businesses to compete in this ever changing U.S. and global economy. We have a lot to work with in Flagler County and we have a lot to offer so it’s time we let everyone know about it.

8. No one seems to want the old courthouse anymore. What would you do with it—continue to pay for its upkeep until a tenant or more are found? Demolish it in whole or in part? Other ideas?

The old court house is a historical landmark. And as such I believe that the seven million plus to be spent on the old hospital would have been better spent on renovating the old court house. It is the focal point of Bunnell. A sheriff’s headquarters there would provide an economic “shot in the arm” for the City of Bunnell. In my opinion the building is far better constructed than the old hospital for it has withstood the test of time. It is constructed of brick and large enough to house the sheriff’s operation and any and all ancillary services. My answer is somewhat rhetorical because the present county commission, in its infinite wisdom, is committed to the old hospital.  Furthermore they have allowed the old court house to fall into such a state of disrepair they can’t give it away let alone sell it.

9. “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society,” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said. Do you agree? Do you consider local government taxes to be too high or too little? Do you favor increasing the local gas tax? If there was one tax reform you could implement locally, what would it be?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

10. Has the county commission managed the taxpayer-funded Environmentally Sensitive Lands program well? Can you cite examples of good land acquisitions, and examples of not-so-good acquisitions? What is your definition of a good ESL acquisition?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

11. Some counties and cities in Florida have approved a domestic partnership registry, granting unmarried couples, including gay couples, the same benefits as married couples. The Flagler County School Board recently extended benefits to same-sex couples. That means partners can visit each other in hospitals and jails and can make funeral arrangements for each other. Would you be supportive of such a registry in Flagler County? If not, why not? If yes, would you be willing to lead the initiative from the commission?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

12. Evaluate the performance of County Administrator Craig Coffee, listing strengths, weaknesses and areas of concern.

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

13. Evaluate the workings of the county commission: do you consider it an effective local government? Can you cite specific examples of its effectiveness—or areas of concern that you would deal with differently? Are you satisfied with the way the commission and its administration relate to the public?

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

14. Who, on the current commission, would you most closely model yourself after and why? If you’re an incumbent, please choose from the remaining four commissioners.

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

15. 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.

Mark Richter has not answered the question.

16. Opponent’s questions.

None posed.

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9 Responses for “Mark Richter, Flagler County Commission Candidate: The Live Interview”

  1. KMedley says:

    “As a result of being in the line of fire on the front lines of a global conflict and military war zone I have proven that I can solve arduous problems expeditiously and effectively and I will put this ability to work for the people of Flagler County.”

    I have another “B” word to describe not only this; but, the answers in their entirety… but, I will quote Colonel Sherman T. Potter, “horse hockey”!

    • Devrie says:

      Agreed! I don’t like the vibe I get from his time working in Afghanistan “in the line of fire” as some form of public service. I’ve met service men and women who were directly in the line of fire who didn’t boast their experiences in this manner. They had specific duties and jobs, too, that were highly technical and complicated that often get overlooked because of the public notions of heroics. Their lives were on the line with highly technical trades and skills.

      Also, he says he would make a good candidate because he is “invested in the community?” How long has he lived in Flagler County. Don’t all the candidates have property in the county?

      What qualifications does he actually have that will give him this ability to manage so effectively that he can reduce taxes while improving important services?

      Finally, he speaks about the other candidates’ avers to the needs of the public. Has he described how he will assess the needs and desires of his constituents? What are people crying out for that the current commissioners have not heard, and how has Richter heard this public voice or outcry?

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    When was this interview conducted? Is it a few weeks old, OK. But If it was done after the shit hit the fan over his wildly exaggerated claims regarding his military record in his last statement, all I can say is the Veterans of Flagler County want to hear an apology first and we’ll judge from there.

  3. A.S.F. says:

    An inability to learn from one’s mistakes does not a good candidate for office make.

  4. flagerhome grown says:

    He is not what I want to be in office………….It’s really scary to think this man thinks he can change things how he wants them……..NOT

  5. Pride of Cucamonga says:

    Says his Current job: Sr. Field Engineer Lockheed Martin. Did not see that earned income on the disclosure sheet. So, Mr Richter, what kind of engineering degree do you have? I did see disability income listed but the amount does not have to be disclosed. Looks like an average Joe financially, he probably could use an extra $50k. I mean who couldn’t? When I reviewed his Facebook page I noted that he keeps referring to himself as Mark did this and Mark did that. That type of reference sounds very immature and amateur. I still want to see his DD-214. How about that verification of the felony being dropped? There are far too many “Mark Richter has not answered the question” notations. Based on what I have seen, one would have to be weak minded, a close friend or a relative to vote for this one.

  6. Yellowstone says:

    Norton I’m with you on this one. Some of us literaily walked over our fallen comarades to get tfhat Honorable Discharge and Good Conduct Medal! This resume cheapens the sacrifice so many of us have made.

    • NortonSmitty says:

      And some walked from your desk to the Commissary to your barracks. You did what you did and served as you could. But if you say you did and you didn’t and we sniff it out, we get a free smack upside your head . And that’s just for starters. It’s one of the few benefits we grant ourselves. It really should be legal, but that’s way down the list of what should be.

  7. Brad says:

    In my opinion this man is not only a horrible candidate, but the example of someone we should never want to sit on our County Commission. He is ignorant of the basics of our county, he is deceitful, and has demonstrated total disrespect for real Veterans and their famileies that have actually sacrificed so much for all of us.

    Mr. Richter,

    I have close family members that were literally boots on the ground in Vietnam and WWII. They watched friends die. They continue to live with the physical and emotional scars of their service for us to this day. And you so disrespectfully state you are a “veteran” when you were in the Navy for all of 7 weeks and couldn’t overcome a rash? You don’t even deserve to be in the same room as a Veteran.

    Then when it comes to you going to the middle east for a contractor and you got injured “in the line of duty”. Then you point out a pending lawsuit. How dare you qualify any work injury on the level of our fighting men and women sacrificing so much for all of us.

    The respectful thing for you to do at this point is issue a formal apology to all of the Veterans and those serving today. Then you should withdraw and apologize to every voter who wasted their vote on someone like you.

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