The Flagler County School Board and the Flagler County Commission held swearing-in ceremonies for a combined six new and re-elected members. Donald O’Brien was named chairman of the commission, Trevor Tucker chairman of the school board.
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.
At the current rate, and with mail ballots still being dropped off, Flagler could end the day with 75,000 ballots cast out of 92,000 eligible voters, for a turnout of 81 percent–close to the records of the 2000 and 2004 elections.
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.