Flagler Beach and Beverly Beach are holding the year’s first local elections on March 2. The Beverly Beach races are uncontested, though the city will have two new commissioners. The Flagler Beach races for mayor and one commission seat very much are contested.
Numerous members of the public’s chip-on-the-shoulder grievances against the Palm Coast City Council suggest that the noxious and often fallacy-filled and slanderous rhetoric may not have ended with the election, but merely morphed into a new form, using the council as platform, and council members as punching bags.
A confrontation between Palm Coast City Council members Eddie Branquinho and Ed Danko devolved into name-calling this morning soon after Danko was sworn in during an already tense meeting, signaling an unprecedented divide on the council.
A Flagler Beach City Commission seat and the mayor’s seat are up in the March 2 election, with first-term incumbent Eric Cooley vying to keep his seat and Suzy Johnston, heir of the Johnston political dynasty in Flagler–and Cooley’s partner–seeking to replace Linda Provencher after Provencher’s 15 years of service as an elected official.
With all early voting results counted, Sheriff Rick Staly had an insurmountable lead to win re-election to his second term, as did County Commissioner Donald O’Brien. Andy Dance, the school board member, also had an insurmountable lead to win the County Commission seat Charlie Ericksen opted not to contest.
The conflict reflects a deep split within Flagler County Republicans, some aligned with incumbent Mayor Milissa Holland, some with challenger Alan Lowe. Both are Republicans in a supposedly non-partisan race that has turned into the single-most partisan race in Flagler aside from the top of the ticket.
Dennis McDonald, the candidate running for a Palm Coast City Council seat in a fifth attempt at elected office, may be declared in contempt of court over $80,000 he owes Flagler County government as reimbursement for legal fees and interest after he filed an ethics complaint against a former county commissioner that was judged frivolous and false.
Palm Coast mayoral candidate Alan Lowe on Friday twice aired a 100-second campaign commercial attacking incumbent Mayor Milissa Holland for lying, only to himself repeat a set of lies about her that were proven false months ago, which may amount to lying with reckless disregard for the truth–a legally actionable offense even when attacking a public figure.
As Palm Coast mayoral candidate Alan Lowe battled the IRS over unpaid taxes in the early 1990s, he declared himself a sovereign citizen and rejected all governmental authority. At 59, he registered to vote only before his own primary, when he voted for the first time in his life.
Victor Barbosa is one of four candidates for Palm Coast City Council, District 2. All registered voters in the city may cast a ballot in that non-partisan election regardless of party affiliation or location in Palm Coast.