It was a rare in-person forum for the candidates in this covid era, without a live audience, but the restrictive and genteel format turned the occasion into something resembling a series of short infomercials for the candidates rather than a challenging political forum.
Three dozen candidates will contest local Flagler County and Palm Coast elections, while Clerk of Court Tom Bexley, Tax Collector Suzanne Johnston, Property Appraiser Jay Gardner, and Elections Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart were re-elected without opposition.
Much of the crime drop was in non-violent crimes, burglaries and larcenies especially. Vehicle thefts increased 26 percent despite the increasing use of license-plate readers. Rapes increased, and murders matched the previous year’s total: three.
Sheriff Rick Staly, riding continued popularity, announced his run for a second term by pointing to more work and new initiatives ahead. In 2016 he broke campaign finance records. He says he’s ready to do what’s necessary to win, but it is unlikely that he will face the challengers he did in 2016, when nine candidates ran.
The races for Flagler County Commission and Palm Coast council were not close in a mid-term election that saw turnout rise to an astounding 64 percent.
A proposed constitutional amendment would a minimum age of 21 on all firearm purchases, a 3-day waiting period and a comprehensive background check.
School Board member Trevor Tucker confirmed he was considering a run for tax collector in four years, and if so would not run for school board again in 2018, while Commissioner Nate McLaughlin has his eyes on Paul Renner’s House seat in 2022.
The sheriff’s big ceremony aside, Flagler County’s other constitutional officers had their own swearings-in, more or less, as new, relatively new and veteran officers took up or continued their duties.
Sheriff Rick Staly was sworn-in this morning before a crowd of hundreds and makes pledges of toughness on “dirtbags” but also pledges of giving offenders better chances at self-improvement while focusing greater attention on juvenile-crime prevention.
Senior Judge Emerson R. Thompson, Jr., who made history as the first black judge in Orange County and the first black judge to be appointed to the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, will administer the oath of office at Rick Staly’s swearing-in on Jan. 3.