Janet McDonald is one of three the Republican candidates for Flagler County Commission, District 2, facing incumbent Greg Hansen and Denise Calderwood in the Aug. 23 primary.
Two seats are up on the commission in this election cycle: District 2 and District 4, where Mullins has drawn opposition from Republican Leann Pennington in the primary. In the Mullins-Pennington race, the winner will face Independent, or no-party-affiliated, Jane Gentile Youd in the November 8 general election. (There is also a write-in, but that candidacy was likely intended only to foreclose the possibility of an open primary. It is not a candidacy as serious as it is cynical.)
Because only Republicans filed to run in the District 2 race, that race is an open primary, meaning that all registered voters–Republicans, Democrats, Independents and minor party registrants–get to cast a vote on it on Aug. 23. That race will decide who the next commissioner will be, therefore all voters get a voice.
Flagler County Commission members serve four years. They’re paid $59,637 a year, a salary set by the state, not by the local commission.
FlaglerLive submitted identical questions to all candidates, with the understanding that additional questions might be tailored to candidates individually and some follow-up questions may be asked, with all exchanges on the record. The Live Interview’s aim is to elicit as much candor and transparency as possible. We have asked candidates to refrain from making campaign speeches or make lists of accomplishments. We have also asked candidates to reasonably document any claim or accusation. Answers are lightly edited for clarity, relevance and, where possible, accuracy. If a candidate does not answer a question or appears to be evading a question, that’s noted.
But it’s ultimately up to the reader to judge the quality and sincerity of a candidate’s answers.
|To vote: see a sample ballot here. Early voting is between Aug. 13 and Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at four sites in the county, listed here. You may vote early at any of the four sites regardless of your precinct location. To vote by mail, request your mail-in ballot here. Because of the Legislature's new law, restricting voting convenience, drop boxes are available, but only to a limited degree. The ballot drop box at the Elections Office will be monitored by a staff member beginning 60 days prior to the election, through Election Day. This drop box will no longer be available after office hours or on weekends, except during the early voting period. Other drop boxes will be available at early voting locations, but only during the days of early voting, and only during voting hours. Mail ballots must be received in the Elections Office by 7 p.m. on Election Day in order to be counted. If returning your ballot by mail, please allow at least ten days for delivery. A postmark does not extend this deadline. You may track your ballot here. All other election-procedure related inquiries can be answered at the Elections Office's website.|
The Questions in Summary: Quick Links
- Method and philosophy
- Critical issues
- Needs and wants
- School concurrency
- Environmental protection
- Heidi Petito
- Public transportation
- Sheriff’s budget
- Background check
Place and Date of Birth: New York, N.Y., March 29, 1950.
Current job: Flagler County School Board member, District 2; Neurodevelopmental Therapist & Instructor.
Party Affiliation: Republican.
Net Worth: See McDonald’s disclosure form here. Resume.
Website and Social Media:
1. What makes you qualified to be a county commissioner? If you’re an incumbent, what examples illustrate how you yourself, as opposed to the board collectively, made a difference in enacting your vision in your previous years on the board? If you’re a challenger, what have you done to prepare, so that you’re ready from day one?
I love Flagler County and I want to invest in providing more respectful and responsive government service to protect its natural and historic treasures in context to measured and well-planned growth. My service on various elected and civic boards has provided opportunities to learn the vital need to prepare through pre-meeting research, to develop close listening skills and to enhance my ability to discuss nuances of proposed plans or actions with those also working for the best solution for the constituents served. All votes have impact and need to be fully discussed for best outcomes.
My eight years of service on the Flagler County School Board has fully informed me of the County level of governance, as I also built an awareness of many of the agencies, other elected boards and their members, and community contributors to our way of life in Flagler County. I know that my personal expectations to be thoroughly prepared for all meetings, and my awareness of many of the current county issues before the Commission, will enable me to represent District 2 well. In my professional roles I have successful experiences working collaboratively for best outcomes for each project.
With all the experience you have amassed and you describe here, in large part through your service on the school board, why not continue there? What motivated you to opt for a whole new learning curve on a commission with a different goal?
I believe in term limits and had agreed to serve two terms. I think broad representation that engages more of the community is healthy for any district and allows opportunity for more to serve. I also have professional goals that I’d like to pursue full-time that I believe are more beneficial for individual development and function.
Over the last few years we have had less than collaborative relationships with the County Commission: Beginning with refusing to allow Flagler schools to join in an impact fees study (our last was 2004) a few years ago. Flagler schools then hired a separate consultant, whose data was rejected by the BoCC because the data was higher than theirs. So we conferred with their impact fee consultant, and were informed our study was correct and more up to date, due to the rapid growth FC is experiencing (1.5% annually & one of the fastest growing in FL). Yet that did not open the door for more collaboration.
We then had to request that our third renewal of a half-penny sales tax referendum, which supports the maintenance and services in Flagler schools, be placed on the ballot for this fall. The BoCC was very reluctant and signaled that they were inclined to take away the community’s right to choose…until I filed for being a candidate for District 2. A new enthusiasm for the initiative was witnessed by the current District 2 Commissioner [Greg Hansen] at the July meeting. He’ll probably be promoting it when you see him next.
Contrary to the BoCC’s thinking, the ½ penny initiative has been agreed to twice by public referendum and has been what has relieved the taxpayer from having to foot the entire bill through property taxes, for school property maintenance, programming, and bonding needs.
The recent moves by the County Commission undermine the work of state law designed ILA – Interlocal Agreement – by inserting private commercial entities and their attorney ( a.k.a. the entities subject to impact fees) into the decision-making process of governmental entities: Flagler School Board, Flagler County, Flagler Beach, Bunnell, and Palm Coast. This has seemed to happened without their current knowledge of how Flagler schools have to work within state law, Department of Education or bonding requirements. Concurrency was created to guide best planning and financial structuring for the greatest need of any county–to adequately plan for and supply education services at a consistent level of service as the community grows…without burdening current property owners who have already paid their impact fees when purchasing their home.
Flagler schools’ professional planner, attorney, and superintendent have spent many hours working to inform and clarify the actual boundaries within which Flagler schools has to operate. The Flagler school district is one of five governmental entities that make up the ILA, and are required to work collaboratively to create the best possible system to maintain and expand our well- regarded small district to be ready to receive all new students arriving daily.
In my time on the School Board, I have focused on improving policy that governs operations, educational offerings, expansion of proven beneficial ones, while providing unique access to experiences not normally part of a small district. The district has maintained B and A ratings during my service, and even as a donor county, the district consistently has provided more value to the community than our funding might allow. Our partnership with the Flagler County Education Foundation and generous donors is also an asset few districts have to supplement and provide unique opportunities that state funding does not provide.
The County Commission can step up to collaborate with Flagler Schools and the other entities which are served by FS, like other high performing Florida school districts. If elected, I intend to work for that value added collaboration with all elected bodies to benefit all County residents.
Sally Hunt, District 1
Jill Woolbright, District 1
Lance Alred, District 2
Will Furry, District 2
Courtney VandeBunte, District 2
Christy Chong, District 4
Leann Pennington, District 4
Janet McDonald, District 2
Greg Hansen, District 2
Denise Calderwood, District 2
Palm Coast City Council, District 2
Theresa Carli Pontieri
2. Tell us who you are as a person—what human qualities and shortcomings you’ll bring (or have brought) to the board, what your temperament is like: if you’re an incumbent, what do you consider may have been a mistake or a misjudgment on your part in your official capacity—something you’d do over, differently–in your last term? If you’re a challenger, apply the question to your work or civic involvement in recent years. Who do you admire most in office today among elected officials in Flagler County—the person you’d consider a model of leadership? Who in the world at large (beyond Flagler), and among the living, do you consider a role model of political or intellectual leadership?
I am a courteous and careful listener: a Steven Covey fan–First seek to understand (Listen to message and energy), then Speak to be understood…and listen for understanding.
I bring to the board “human qualities.” I care about others & respect their journeys. “Shortcomings”: impatient with needy adults who expect others to “do their ‘jobs’” or “agree regardless.” Temperament: generally kind and considerate
As a School Board Incumbent: My mistake in public service in Flagler County was ignoring and not addressing false narratives shared on social media or blogs, other than through one-to-one or small group conversations. I don’t believe texts or sound bites on social media or text exchanges adequately explain whole situations and rationales, so I have not invested in “virtual” defense and clarifications of some of my comments posted by others.
Our respectful civil discourse has definitely diminished in quantity and quality through the fear-inducing technology screen modes of “communication.”
I most admire Ken Bryan, Flagler Beach Commission Chair. He is an astute servant leader and respectful representative for his community and other county board members, who invests in developing awareness that all elected officials work for the same goal: The Best Florida city or county … and all the while, a “fun guy”!
Who in the world do I consider a role model of political or intellectual leadership? My top three: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Victor Davis Hansen; Thomas Sowell.
You do not see your tenure on the school board in the last few years–in sharp contrast with your first term–as divisive?
The focus of the current board has been on carving out special allowances and creating wordy policies that are unnecessarily confusing for the general public and for clear delineation for those implementing them with fidelity and for students’ learning focus and behavior expectations.
My responsibility is to represent constituents and work in concert with established policy and law. There have been a few polarizing issues around individual situations that, previously, had always been handled discretely at the school or district level, that some wanted to elevate for public theater. I believe that historical and effective district individualized guidance would have been sufficient and more successful to address the student ‘need’ at the individual student level at the school with school based personnel, rather than institutional policy changes. A couple of school board members chose to elevate to policy changes…which created the firestorm of mischaracterizing of my intent or beliefs by media and then community members. Sadly, I believe this creates confusion and potential latitude on behavior that may set up students for less than successful results. Our focus is education, by state law and by contract with our public.
Is there something you did in your official capacity as a school board member–a policy decision, a particular vote, a decision that affected constituents–that you consider to be a mistake or would do differently?
No – I received more positive feedback from the community and from our Flagler schools community who value high quality education.
3. How do you describe your governing method and philosophy: how do you (or will you) prepare for each council meeting and workshop, what is your analytical method, issue by issue, and what drives your decision-making? What role do politics, ideology or immovable principles have in your decision-making approach?
My contract with the voters is to serve as their voice on the board, guided by governing policies and Florida Statutes, and always open to communication with and input from those I represent.
Preparation – I need to know the history or context of any situation, the purpose of adjusting the service or direction, and the impact of action or inaction with focus on degree of benefit to Flagler County residents.
Analytical method? All must be considered within context of whole and impact on current service or restrictions: History, reason for ‘wish or need for adjustment’, impact on priorities vs service vs taxes; Issue by issue relative to impact of service to the community.
What drives your decision making? Working for the most appropriate allocation of tax dollars for legislated or needed services. As a conservative, I believe in limited government, which needs to focus on the necessities for a civil and safe society, while enabling lower taxes for all, thereby, supporting more liberties for individuals to self-direct their investments of time and energy for personal needs and advancements.
I believe the three most critical issues facing the county are overbuilding, lack of coordinated planning and loss of revenue from outdated impact fees, and loss of Flagler’s Natural Beauty.
Re: Overbuilding: Just because legislation allows “pervious area percentage,” a compromising concept relative to past development standards, it should not dictate the application in any or every area not yet developed. Local wisdom and perspectives need to be included in weighing new development.
We need to stop permitting proposed projects with densely spaced residences without ‘elbow room’ or functional privacy. I believe we need to reconsider regulations to allow greater recharge of our water table. Requiring tertiary filtered septic systems rather than using sewers would address sanitary needs while reinvigorating the ground water/water table at a lower cost while benefitting the environment.
Re: Loss of Flagler’s Natural Beauty and Identity
Clear cutting and over developing violates Flagler County’s contract with nature’s plant & animal kingdoms, and current human residents, by short-circuiting the essential interrelated and interdependent structures that are critical for ecosystem vitality, and the essential backdrop to which folks who chose Flagler were drawn. [We need] professional landscape designs that incorporate the natural assets of a property, in keeping with the neighboring properties or area, focused on enhancing a newly developed area to be in keeping with the natural assets; and demands on developers/Builders to restore foliage screens and buffers between residences and around developments.
Re: Loss of Revenue from outdated impact fees and taxes poorly spent.
Flagler is one of the top 10 Florida counties for growth, with possible 1.5 percent annual rate of growth. We are considered part of the federal planning region of Daytona, yet we are also informed by practices in St. Johns. Both have updated their impact fees regularly to keep up with demands on services by those new residential developments. Sadly, Flagler County defers to special interests to keep our impact fees well below our neighboring counties, and current suggested rates by our consultants (Tindale Oliver for Flagler County and Tischler Bise for Flagler Schools, expert consultants). Flagler Schools had requested to do a joint study with Flagler County for common data and collaborative work for the county residents, yet was refused by County Commissioners. Flagler Schools’ study a year later recommended fees a bit higher than the county’s study, yet their experts agreed that the economic conditions had changed in the interim and Flagler Schools’ data was more current and accurate for planning.
Things are moving fast, and I believe we are not keeping pace with fair impact fees on new construction. Current residents will have to pay more in property taxes due to the County’s special interests’ alliances.
Re: Fractured Countywide plan for services due to the County Commission violating Florida statue (Ch 163) by exiting the InterLocal Agreement (ILA) to plan for coordinated educational services planning across the county. [Statute directs the governmental bodies ~ Board of County Commissioners, the Flagler County School Board, and municipalities that have students attending Flagler schools – currently Flagler County, Flagler Beach, Bunnell, and Palm Coast – to jointly plan for how to monitor development and prepare for adequate school facilities through concurrency to maintain current level of service in concert with expanding population.]
Instead the county issued a 180-day exit from the ILA, and insisted on inserting a new fee structure offered by the private group of builders represented by the new Chamber of Commerce, though neither one is an elected body, and certainly with special interests in the fee amount and structure. Any shortfall due to inadequate planning and fee collection will all be shouldered by the current and future property taxpayers, rather than those creating the impact on our current level of service.
Would you reverse course on eliminating septic systems from the barrier island in favor of sewer connections?
My experience for environmentally sensitive lands, like our shorelines and headwater areas, supports the use of well-maintained tertiary filtered septic systems which are far less invasive, and more environmentally beneficial, as they involve disturbing a smaller area, clean the outflow and renourish the ground water, rather than excavate fragile areas, lay /remove/re-lay pipe (which locally had not been planned nor installed properly by engineering) and pump long distances for treatment that then dumps marginal water into the rivers and does not renourish the ground water and negatively affects the aquaculture biome. More engineered septic systems are used in highly fragile areas like Sanibel and Captiva and environmentally respectful coastline and island communities. We need to be aware that many cities that treat sewage pay the fines rather than meet compliance We need not add to that data.
Florida law gives the county authority not only to sign off on a school board’s impact fees, but to stand in the way and push back on a proposed schedule, as the county did with the school board’s initial schedule.
My experience with School Board members from high-achieving districts maintain that they are able to excel as they do because all of their county and municipal governments regularly work collaboratively with the School Districts to be informed and up to date on all aspects of evaluating growth trends, updating impact fees and concurrency parameters, in order to be prepared to achieve the best education system. An A or high rated school system is one of the most important assets for valuation a county has to offer property owners. The “ruse” here is that County Commission members claim they are keeping taxes low, yet in truth County “impact fees” are paid by the builder/developer on new construction for the County to prepare for the anticipated burden on current facilities – schools, roads, fire/safety, government services, etc – in order to maintain “level of service” currently enjoyed. If the impact fees are not current with actual replacement/enhancement cost, more of the shortfall in actual cost of adding capacity for services that is triggered by new construction will be put on every property owner, rather than the construction that created the demand. Only new property buyers pay the pass through impact fees that the builder paid initially. So without updated impact fees on new development, the BoCC is raising every property owner’s taxes.
Flagler County impact fees are significantly lower, by many thousands of dollars, than our neighboring counties, and are not meeting current costs for additional county services needs created by that new construction. Any shortfalls from outdated impact fees, again, will become a burden for the school board and current property owners, not the builders/developers who pass this “cost of doing business” onto their buyers…as they will be the end user of the updated services. For the record, the BoCC is required by their policies, to meet yearly to review and update growth expectations. They have not done so in many years.
Outdated or insufficient impact fees again is another area where the BoCC did not work with Flagler Schools when we asked to join their study, when the BoCC contracted to do one a few years ago. When FS did our study with a different firm a couple years later, the BoCC discounted the accuracy of our figures, until we conferred with their expert, who confirmed our rate was accurate and more up-to-date than the BoCC’s, because FC is growing at an annual rate of 1.5 percent – one of the fastest growing counties in Florida, possibly due to extremely low impact fees. What is hard to explain is the BoCC kept ‘their head in the sand’ by implementing a moratorium on County impact fees for eight years. They waited until 2021 to restart those fees, and missed many years of collecting fees during that rapid growth!
Would you reduce the county’s role to signing off on whatever the school board submits?
The arrangement I’ve been promoting (and, if elected, hope to make a County Commission practice) and explaining is a collaborative one from doing regular joint growth studies that would provide common updated knowledge and starting point for planning for all County services, which includes the ILA (Interlocal Agreement), the countywide governmental body that evaluates and prepares for the school district’s needs (per Florida Statute 163). The district would be the leading authority in the knowledge base of construction costs, bonding, an equal governmental member of the ILA to plan best for any expansion that joint up-to-date (BoCC and school distriuct) studies show is needed. This state law-established process was created to best guide any county for creation or expansion of education services.
I sense that many of the County processes and practices would benefit from joint governmental participation in regular collaborative long range Flagler County planning and review initiatives on the state of quality of life, environment, and services to best provide for all constituents. Much of the development processes need to be updated to actually be more responsive and respectful for quality community planning and the natural and historic environments that are in danger of being encroached on, ruined or lost.
5. Candidates and commissioners hear the phrase “needs, not wants” from many constituents, usually as a criticism of some specific proposal to spend money on a project the speaker considers a “want.” Please give two or three examples of what you consider “needs” and how you would address them as a commissioner, and two or three examples of “wants” that you believe are important enough to justify the required spending.
I endorse the creation of a multi-generational recreation campus, which would include interior large, flexible meeting spaces, smaller social areas, education and recreation spaces for multi-age programming, and exterior recreation areas and aquatic facilities that could adequately serve our growing county’s needs.
It’s long overdue, with input and costs shared by all governmental bodies. I endorse a joint Flagler County/Palm Coast project to improve traffic flow on East/West major corridors for efficiencies and reduction in pollution using a.i.
I endorse a broader representation on volunteer planning boards to expand regular citizen input and less special interest solicitation.
Regarding your second point on traffic flow, and assuming you mean artificial intelligence, is that not what Palm Coast instituted a few years ago at considerable cost?
What was installed was electronic monitoring that allows for human adjustment. I believe it has made some positive differences in the flow of traffic and allows for adjustments at high travel times and with increased driving population…and we don’t have to sit at “Birthday Lights” when there is light traffic. The next step is using AI systems that are self-regulating based on patterns of flow.
But how is that part of the county’s responsibilities, when even State Road 100 is a state road (and one getting its own improvements soon)?
SR 100 is operated by Palm Coast, yet I think this is another situation where there is opportunity for collaboration(County and Cities) as traffic is county-wide, with drivers from within and beyond Flagler County. The legal boundaries with fluid application do make opportunities for collaboration. Commissioner Andy Dance has coordinated the Countywide all agencies Traffic Study Team since his service on the school board. The opportunities to intentionally update all agencies and experts who are committed to our best travel/safety on all roads and walkways is vital and a value to all in the community. They monitor and address issues for better safety and service to all in Flagler and lucky travelers.
As Chief Seattle is credited with saying: We are all on the web of life, and everything we do affects others.
6. Commissioners like to say they won’t raise taxes or will keep taxes, or at least tax rates, flat. How do you define a tax increase—as keeping the rate the same or as exceeding the rollback rate? Adopting your definition of an increase, are you against property tax increases? What three specific line items would you cut from this year’s proposed budget to keep the property tax where you’d want it?
I define a tax increase as a higher payment on the same property or services compared to last year’s tax amount. A Rollback rate is last year’s revenue amount at the new year’s milage rate that they assign to keep your taxes stable. Yes, I would be opposed to tax increase without approved service increases. I would review the legal department relative to costs, services provided, and overall legal effectiveness.
The large expense in this year’s budget is the Sheriff’s department. Yet we can’t begin to look for economies or efficiencies until the department is reestablished and operating in a healthy, purpose-built facility.
You mention reviewing the legal department pretty broadly, which points to potentially complicated entanglements ahead: your husband Dennis McDonald is no fan of County Attorney Al Hadeed, who has quarterbacked the pursuit of Dennis for attorneys’ fees, now exceeding $80,000, over the ethics complaint Dennis filed that the Ethics Commission found frivolous. Do you intend to have an active role in, and vote on, the fate of the county attorney, given the apparent conflict of interest? If you do, how can that not be perceived as payback?
Note: McDonald’s answer to this follow-up question was long, convoluted and in several instances inaccurate, repeating clims about County Attorney Al Hadeed that have been repeatedly discredited, including through the felony conviction of former Elections Supervisor Kimberle Weeks, who fomented some of the allegations repeated in the answer. With that disclaimer, the answer is presented unedited and in full, as outlined by McDonald, here.
7. The County Commission has signaled some readiness to scrap the school-concurrency standard that has prevailed for many years—the requirement that development proceed only when there is sufficient capacity in schools to seat students. The commission also appears ready to change the timing on when developers pay impact fees: not up front (as the school district prefers, for planning purposes), but more in a pay-as-you-go approach. Where do you stand on school concurrency, and were you supportive of the commission rolling back the district’s initial ask for a doubling of school impact fees?
The County Commission “did not signal readiness to scrap our countywide concurrency agreement” set by FL Statute, they made notice of termination of their participation in the current ILA, as of August 31. Now they are scrambling to come up with “their” solution with private business stakeholders to set parameters for the Flagler County School Board and three other municipal entities.
High performing school districts use the proven Florida Statute-guided concurrency model, as it maps a success plan for intergovernmental bodies to intentionally and adequately plan for anticipated school construction needs created by increased population growth caused by new residential construction. A county needs at least three to five years of focused planning and construction to have a facility ready to receive students.
Flagler Schools has maintained a B+ or A rating over the last 8 years and is a highly regarded small district offering unique learning opportunities in many areas. It is one of the reasons people choose to move to Flagler County, as it has high rated schools and unique alliances and opportunities, not the norm for a small district. The County Commission’s move to undermine Flagler Schools, the County’s largest employer, delivering the most concentrated daily service to the largest numbers of taxpaying consumers, is politically motivated for election season bravado for four of the commissioners. Their solution elevates private business concerns over the ILA’s three other elected boards and core educational service to the community. It is evident by the actions of four of the commissioners that they do not support our schools.
8. Evaluate the county’s long-term plan to save its beaches. It signed on to a $100 million beach renourishment plan for just 2.6 miles of beach just in Flagler Beach. The cost is expected to increase by the tens of millions of dollars, with half that cost over the next four or five decades the county’s responsibility. It is now demonstrably certain that sea levels are rising, and Flagler’s revenue sources for additional beach protection are tapped out. How do you propose to pay for the next repairs should a hurricane like Matthew or even a strong storm with damaging surges strike during your tenure? How is beach protection not a losing battle?
“The cow is out of the barn” on this point. As a member of Save Flagler Beach years ago, I’m well acquainted with the topic of beach renourishment, as it relates to Flagler County. The County Commission has already signed us up for an open-ended, multimillion dollar arrangement with the Army Corps of Engineers, a few years back, that will last 50 years.
With the initial funds tapped out, I am concerned about this mega-million dollar federal contract. As a member of the County Commission, I would request that any further monies be appropriated through the referendum process. All Flagler County voters should have a voice in this never-ending battle against Mother Nature.
When the county signed on to the Army Corps project in 2019, it was billed as a 50-year, $100 million project, up from $39 million just six years earlier, with Flagler County responsible for 35 percent of the cost for the initial construction (it secured state funds for that) 50 percent of the cost for each subsequent “renourishment,” a cost without a revenue source as yet. Is this a mortgage you’re not willing to shoulder? Would you have voted against the plan? Would you encourage your colleagues to drop the plan, which affects just 2.6 miles of beach?
I don’t know if you remember, but I was part of Save Flagler Beach, that was promoting a $50-$100k project of undercurrent stabilizers that had been successful at various high value seashores. The draw of “free” money from County/Army Corps of Engineers swayed the councils at the time…yet time and activities has shown that unless you slow the receding water, it won’t redeposit the suspended sands…like the undercurrent stabilizers proved possible to rebuild beach and coastal environments from Saudi Arabia to the Great Lakes.
From the numbers I heard Greg Hansen share at a recent forum, I think any new plans need to go before the countywide voters for specific parameters by public binding referendum.
Note: the stabilizers McDonald refers to were proposed by Dick Holmberg in 2013. The proposal was controversial, Homlberg’s study was found lacking in rigor, and was ultimately rejected. See articles about it here, here and here.
In my opinion the County is failing to address the protection and preservation of Flagler’s natural environment. This failure seems by design with a volunteer planning board made up of hand-selected realtors, builders, associated construction trade professionals, with one unaffiliated citizen representative.
I’ll share a recent personal experience from June’s meeting. Knowing the topics to be discussed, a request for documents submitted for the meeting was made. None were available or sent. The public information package, over 100 pages of very involved technical materials, was posted on line less than 48 hours prior to the meeting.
I attended the meeting and witnessed a very involved presentation by County Planning Director Adam Mengel. As a member of the public focused on this particular issue, I find it very unlikely that the members read and understood the multiple pages provided for the public record, as few questions were asked about the referenced materials.
It seemed that there was a predetermined outcome and the panel did not address any of the concerns of the nearly 20 residents who spoke against it. What I witnessed cannot be considered best practice for natural resources protection and preservation.
Your experience is instructive regarding the conduct of the planning board, but isn’t its responsibility limited to reviewing land use, zoning and development projects? How would environmental protection be compatible with its mission–to ensure that development is following the law, the comprehensive plan, the county’s land use rules?
Your questions assume the initial premise is valid and immutable. We have an incredibly rare community and environment – the last Hammock, precious headwaters, historical treasures and more – that we have a responsibility to protect and honor, as well as respecting that our stewardship does not include maximum assault on property for creating poorly designed neighborhoods.
Strengths – I have high regard of Mrs. Petito’s abilities, from interactions when she served as Deputy County Manager and many years as Operations Manager. I have found her to be a very clear and strong administrator. I have not found Mrs. Petito to be lacking in performing any of her roles.
11. With the county’s population exceeding 120,000, where do you stand on the county and its three major cities devising a collaborative public, surface, fixed-route transportation system that goes beyond the county’s current limited operation? How would such a system be paid for?
I do not think a fixed through transportation system is financially feasible given the development design of Palm Coast. Commerce services are increasingly done on-line rather than at designated local brick & mortar sites. On line services are now a mainstay following covid and will soon be the majority method reducing trips to brick & mortar locations.
12. The sheriff’s budget plus the capital budget have risen rapidly, with the continuing addition of deputies, the new operations center, and other substantial capital additions such as a new mobile command center and a boat. The budget proposal requests another expansion this year. In light of persistently low crime rates, where do you place the point at which expansions in budgets and ranks outweigh the benefits, or become more burdensome on the county’s overall budget than necessary? Is there such a thing as overfunding police?
First, we must ask, is it possible to overfund a homeless Sheriff?
Our Deputies and Sheriff have been the most abused law enforcement group in Florida for the last 10 years, with the last four being the greatest burden due to their landlord, the Flagler County Commissioners, failing to provide safe & healthy quarters for the folks who protect us.
I would wait a year for the Flagler County Sheriff and his Deputies to move into their new, long overdue HQ, establish the operational systems that go with the new command center. I am sure the Sheriff will be vigilant in working for optimizing service and finding cost savings in a design-built facility.
But what has the facility got to do with actual deputies in the field?
“Home base” for anyone or any organization sets the tone for operational structure and efficiency. Your set up begs the question: Is our lower crime rate a reflection of criminals’ knowledge or vision that there are more SRO personnel available than in less manned communities and criminals may sense more exposure with fewer opportunities than in other counties where they time the longer duration between patrols for possible surveillance trips of their ‘work’? Our investment in personnel may be part of the magic. From personal experience, I am abundantly aware that Flagler County neighborhoods are precariously exposed by three active exits on I- 95 that criminals know are easy “off-on” get-in/get-away routes. Our FCSO’s professional expertise and networks with other law and support agencies is a value you may not realize until you experience it.
And I know the Flagler schools community appreciates seeing more active presence of SROs on our properties, vitally engaging with our students to build respectful communities, and being present at large Flagler schools community events, as Palm Coast has emphasized.
Putting aside the operation center boondoggle of the last several years, the department itself has undergone the most growth, in dollars and manpower, in its history (far outstripping what growth it experienced in the county’s highest-growth years before the housing boom), all in a low-crime environment, in a county with demographics that trend toward lower crime. Would you be supportive of continuing that expansive trend?
I believe the services have been expanded in concert with community demand and variety of needed services. As a comparison, I’ve listened to the St Johns’ Sheriff and the complexity of any Sheriff’s organization is far greater than an outsider might understand. Maybe spend a week with all the facets of the department and conduct a time study for the answer to your question.
13. 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, or faced any investigative or disciplinary action through a professional board such as the bar or a medical board? If so, please explain, including cases where charges or claims did not lead to conviction or disciplinary action.
What of the Ethics Commission’s findings regarding your 2013 and 2014 financial disclosure forms?
My violation was combining vacant, undeveloped lots in Palm Coast without specific house # addresses with their combined value, as they were all the same relatively small estimated value. All lots were easily found on the assessor’s site, as the complaint indicated.
I did this process on my first form and repeated it on the second Form 6, as it was not pointed our as an issue until some local commissioners’ activities came under scrutiny by citizens we knew.
The other mistake was listing a misremembered Connecticut filing of ownership of a long-held property. I thought it was filed in my husband’s name, yet it had been recorded in my name. My husband, Dennis, also had to file a Form 6 that year, and did have it listed on his form 6 of the same year. There was no attempt to avoid disclosing…that was evident to the investigator.
The complaint against me was retaliation….lots of political intrigue in Florida. For the record, I self-fund all of my campaigns and return a large percentage of my “salary” back into service in the community, especially children’s opportunities. In my eight years of service I have never asked for any reimbursement of monies I expended to do my work as FCSB District 2 member.
If anyone would like to support my candidacy, please donate to your favorite program or volunteer in an organization or initiative that you value.
2022 Election Candidates, Flagler County
|County Commission District 2||Greg Hansen, incumbent (Rep)||Janet McDonald (Rep)||Denise Calderwood (Rep)|
|County Commission District 4||Joe Mullins, incumbent (Rep)||Leann Pennington (Rep)||Jane Gentile-Youd (NPA)|
|School Board District 1||Jill Woolbright, incumbent||Sally Hunt|
|School Board District 2||Lance Alred||Will Furry||Courtney VandeBunte|
|School Board District 4||Trevor Tucker, incumbent||Christy Chong|
|Palm Coast City Council Seat 2||Theresa Carli Pontieri||Sims Jones||Shauna Kanter / Alan Lowe|
|Palm Coast City Council Seat 4||Cathy heighter||Fernando Melendez|