Last Updated: 8:14 p.m.
David Alfin, the 68-year-old Realtor, past president of the Flagler County Education Foundation and a long-time Florida transplant from his native Teaneck, N.J., was elected Palm Coast’s fourth mayor this evening in a relatively strong win over five other candidates. Fellow-Realtor Cornelia Manfre was running second.
With all 18,962 votes counted, Alfin won with 6,891 votes, or 36.3 percent, Lowe took second with 5,102 votes, or 26.9 percent, and Manfre took third with 4,558 votes, or 24 percent. The three other candidates are Doug Courtney (9 percent), Kathy Austrino (3 percent) and Carol Bacha (1 percent).
Alfin’s victory paired with Manfre’s showing is a decisive repudiation of scorched-earth politics represented by Alan Lowe, the hyper-partisan candidate who’d also run against Milissa Holland in November, falling short then after a campaign dependent on more smears than substance. After Holland resigned in May, citing obligations to her daughter, Lowe immediately declared for mayor in the special election and repeated the approach, if often focusing back on the Holland era and other imaginary wrongs. Lowe’s campaign projected more apocalyptic visions of City Hall than aspirations for the city at large–an ironic inversion for a candidate who described himself as an inventor, a talent fueled more by imagination than resentment.
“I have a gathering of supporters here, which form a neighborhood if you will, which is as warm and loving and comforting, as anyone could be. They don’t know yet,” Alfin said, speaking by phone from Island Grill, the Flagler Beach restaurant, moments before his supporters learned of the victory, but after the results had been posted and published here. “And I can’t wait to share the news with them and the excitement, the thrill and all of those things. But we also know here that… this deal really gets started on the third [of August]. So there’s little time to waste. Because there is so much to do in a short period of time to regain the community’s confidence. That’s a process. And I will spend every minute working towards that goal. It’s really important for all of us.” As he spoke, his supporters erupted in cheers, the news having made it to to their phones.
Alfin’s election ensures that when the council meets again on Aug. 3, when Alfin will be sworn in, it will have the three-vote majority to break a logjam dating back to Holland’s resignation. One of the council’s first votes will be to set the tentative property tax rate for next week–a normally routine action that every local government manages without controversy, but that the Palm Coast council could not manage earlier this week, as two council members–Ed Danko and Victor Barbosa–refused to budge from a tax rate lower than administratively prudent at this stage, since neither council member was prepared to offer up items that could be cut in accordance with their lower tax rate. Alfin today said he would vote for the existing tax rate, as Acting Mayor Eddie Branquinho and Council member Nick Klufas had proposed. He also pledged to be the sort of mayor who will seek unanimity rather than a mere majority, a pledge that may seem herculean in the face of two council members pledged to ideological doctrine rather than the facts and figures of ledgers and governance.
Whether with a majority or unanimity, the council’s reconstitution now ensures that it can move forward with the search for a new city manager, following the sudden resignation of Matt Morton days after Holland’s. Alfin said that he favors a wide and thorough search for the next manager.
“I wish Mr. Alfin the very best of luck and I hope he will lead Palm Coast into the future,” Manfre said in a concession statement less than an hour after the results were announced. “And while I will not have the opportunity to serve the people of this great city, I will continue to serve and advocate for the people of Palm Coast like I have for the past 22 years. But I don’t see this as a win for Republicans, I see this as a loss for Democrats. The vote count shows that at least 1000+ Democrats did not vote for one of the two Democrats running. We have to do better and we will do better.” Manfre in her written statement appears to have missed a zero in her calculation. There are about 22,000 registered Democrats in the city, only 13,000 of whom voted.
Holland was not at Alfin’s celebration, though her phone appeared to be ringing at least as much as Alfin’s. She said she was “very pleased with the outcome of the election. I think it was a well run campaign focused on the issues and what was important to the voters, and our residents. And I also think that it was a message that was consistent with the majority of our residents, and what they want to see.”
With Alfin and Manfre together totaling roughly 60 percent of the vote, the message of repudiation of the politics of abuse, largely targeting Holland, was clear. “We have a tremendous amount of opportunities that are before us, and we also have some challenges that we have to continue to address as a community,” Holland said. “It’s going to take a lot of thoughtful leadership to ensure that the continuum of services are provided to our residents, which they expect. I’m hopeful that this result will dampen some of the rhetoric that’s been going on for the last few months. And I think those that will be there for the right reasons will be focused on the issues that are impacting our community.”
Turnout was poor throughout mail-in and early voting, and did not improve today, ending barely over the 26 percent mark. Just 15 to 16 percent of all ballots cast were recorded on election day. But it was not as bad as the last time a mayor was elected outside of a general election cycle. In 2011, the last year when Palm Coast held off-year elections–and the year that decided the council to shift to general-election voting–only 10.6 percent of the electorate voted in the September primary that elected Jon Netts to his final term as mayor. He won with 2,850 votes in a city with 49,500 registered voters, or with less than 6 percent of the eligible voter’s total.
Today’s outcome was not foretold. Lowe, because of his perceived showing in November, was briefly seen as the front-runner, and not just by his own campaign. Anxiety ran high at City Hall, where the assumption in early June was that Lowe was set to win. The assumption was amplified by Ed Danko, the then-strutting Palm Coast City Councilman elected in November, who made his fortune synonymous with Holland’s exit Lowe’s opportune rise. Danko stage-managed Lowe’s campaign accordingly, a strategy Lowe now likely regrets given Danko’s gift for self-destruction.
So it was not just a stinging loss for Lowe, his second in eight months. Danko had turned the election into a referendum on Danko’s own politics and tenure, and his ability to get a third vote in Lowe, presumably with the submissive vote of Barbosa–whom Danko had previously vilified as unintelligent. As recently as Monday, Danko had sent a campaign-email advertising through Mailchimp that–beside skirting the legalities of using his position as a councilman to campaign–used the first person singular five times in a 116-word pitch for Lowe. Besides repeating falsehoods and making slanderous innuendoes seldom seen in Palm Coast electoral politics until Lowe, Danko and Barbosa exploited the approach last November, Danko claimed today’s special election was the “last chance to save our city from the dishonest political PACs and their greedy politicians.” (Alfin, like Rep. Paul Renner, Sen. Travis Hutson and Sheriff Rick Staly, among others, benefited from lucrative out-of-county and out-of-district contributions.)
“I will fight for you and our city, but I cannot do it alone,” he told prospective voters, using the “our city” formula twice in the brief, clipped-paragraph email. Today’s election results strongly suggest it is not Danko’s city anymore than it is Lowe, by any means. If anything, it is still Holland’s city, as Holland behind the scenes had favored Alfin and Alfin had tailored his run on more of a protection of the Holland legacy than a conjuration of his own. Barbosa had also closely allied himself with Lowe, campaigning for him on social media, planting his signs and biding his time on the council. Barbosa was elected in a special election last November, defeating Alfin, among others. Barbosa has since announced a run for the county commission, which means he will have to resign his council seat next year.
Danko’s commitment to the council is unclear. The council was meeting in a budget workshop today, discussing matters Danko–judging by his questions in meetings–has little familiarity with. But Danko skipped the meeting, choosing to campaign for Lowe instead at the public library in Palm Coast, though by the time the workshop was over, barely two or three dozen people had voted there.
“This,” said Bob Cuff of Alfin’s win—Cuff had served four years on the council with Holland until his decision not to run again last year— “will make sleeping easier and telling people you live in Palm Coast a lot more pleasant.”
|Cornelia Downing Manfre|
Did not vote, don’t complain! Embarrassing!!!!
Ed D Sux says
The dude says
Marginally good news I’spose…
Looks like PC picked the least shitty of the two orange cult candidates.
Hopefully he can get the council organized on the towns business
Concerned voter says
Hopefully he will pay his taxes
Deborah Coffey says
25% voted and the winner got 36% of those votes. We’re going to have to make voting in ALL elections mandatory in this country because this is the lousiest display of citizenship one can even imagine. We’ve got a republic if we can keep it. And, we certainly can’t keep it when people do not behave like good citizens. This is shameful.
Deborah Coffey: I agree, appears that they don’t have a vested interest in their community, it’s pathetic.
“We’re going to have to make voting in ALL elections mandatory in this country because this is the lousiest display of citizenship one can even imagine.” In a democracy voting is a privilege and not a mandatory requirement. That privlege includes the right to not cast a vote for any of the running candidates as a way of objecting to things that all of the candidates stand for. Politicians in this country seem to support the farthest edges of their parties and ignore the middle. That’s why our elected government isn’t solving problems like making sure that all citizens have adequate food, shelter, and healthcare. Our elected government seems to ignore citizenship legislation for those who come from elsewhere and seek to make a better life for themselves and their families. i suggest our elected government needs to stop supporting the far right and the far left and focus of making our country a better place for all.
Jack Howell says
Congratulations David. I wish you well.
Roy Longo says
The title reminded me of Yeats!
That’s excellent news! As a proud conservative, those morons who have an R behind their title do not represent the rest of the party.
In other somewhat related news, wait until you hear about what happened at the Ethics hearing today…
Way to go Palm Coast, you got a wealthy New Yorker running your city.
Barry…didn’t we have also a wealthy NYer elected in the WH too? So looks like is the trend now. Lets the new Mayor first prove how he will work for the residents first and we will have time to complain then if needed.
palmcoaster: Why did you take this as a complaint? Don’t be so cynical. Us NY’ers do get things done.
Yogi B says
I am in no way a fan of the others from the field of ‘dream’ choices.
However, Alfin is perfect for the job. He has little to no experience with governance and he’s a pompous, arrogant a**hole. Perfect!
Teaneck, N.J is not in New York
Regardless , we dodged a bullet with that as-clown Lowe!
Teaneck? Alfin lived in Manhasset the GOLD COAST of Long Island LOL
Can you disparage him more. Can’t wait to see what your cult followers say.
Will we now hear that the election was rigged? That it was stolen from Lowe? Lowe won????? Maybe this is the first step in turning Palm Coast into a respected community once again. Maybe Danko should resign before he is defeated in his next re-election attempt.
The dude says
It’s already started. The batshit crazies are exhorting Lowe not to concede.
Haha! I said the same thing! “It was rigged, it was stolen, blah, blah, blah”. Face it Lowe and posse, you are all losers! Barbosa, Danko, and Mullins, you are next! I am soooo very sick of the toxic political losers interfering in what should be simple routine business. They have NO CLUE what it takes to run a governmental entity. Just ignorant buffoons shooting their mouths off to promote their own twisted ideology (if you can even call it that) and interfering with the business at hand. Dumb and dumber run amok!
Frank W says
Great news. Lowe would have been a disaster!
Steve Robinson says
Maybe there is some hope for the country after all.
Thank Goodness–That’s all I can say!
Yep, the 26% voter turnout is disappointing. This special election was going to cost us whatever it was going to cost. Might as well vote and get your money’s worth. Perhaps the only reason anyone voted in 2020 was Mayor was piggy backed on a national election ?
John Stove says
Finally…..some sanity. Lowe/Danko, you are losers just like your dear leader Trump. Maybe now we can get to the real work of managing a city with teamwork, forward thinking and public service.
Well done Palm Coast
How long do we have to wait to vote Danko and Barbosa out of office?
T. Bone Stark says
Elections have consequences . Just wait until the Big Hurricane hits Palm Coast and everyone is swimming down Palm Coast Parkway. Then we will see who has leadership qualities .
What are you talking about? Hahahha!
Why don’t you make up another thing that “might” happen to destroy the area. Geez.
Wait until the wildfires burn the town again, then you’ll see…
Trailer Bob says
You are giving them too much credit. At least Trump did some good things. These guys did not qualify to be a dog catcher…the dogs are more sane and comfortable to be near.
But in the end it worked out.
So, there are 5,102 completely brainwashed idiots in Palm Coast. Good to know.
NPA Voter says
I’m certain, just by everyday public observation based on hats, flags, and shirts, that there are far more than 5,102 completely brainwashed idiots in Palm Coast. I think the brainwashed masses were so confident their gutter dwelling god would win that they didn’t bother to vote! Thank God! Best of luck, Mr. Alfin. Please do your best to bring some semblance of sanity and civility to the Chambers once again.
DANKO AND BARBOSA … your days are surely numbered. And most of us could not be more pleased. The fact that Danko chose to campaign for Lowe in front of the library – INSTEAD of attending one of the most important City workshops of the year to work on the City Fiscal Year Budget – speaks volumes. He doesn’t give a damn about the citizens or the functionality of our municipality government. Shame on you!
Yah voted for the real estate investor who had more PAC money than the next two candidates combined. If you don’t vote to run Palm Coast by committee, you are one of those 5k idiots.
I have no horse here, as an independent voter, but I’m smart enough to know that Alfin will answer to those PAC donators first, not to you folks sucking up to him here.
NPA Voter says
To be clear, I did not support Alfin (if you thought I was sucking up – never!). But I am thrilled Lowe did NOT win and, since the race has been settled, merely congratulated Alfin in a civilized manner and wished him luck. Some of his supporters claim he is a moderate Repub and I sincerely hope they are right. It remains to be seen whether we dodged a bullet or just got nicked. Call him the lesser of the evils – and it says a lot, I think, that Manfre came in 3rd with such an imbalance of registered Dems vs Repubs.
As an Independent, the politics in this entire county drive me bat $hit crazy! We need more balance.
Yogi B says
Hey Yeah. The people’s “5 cents won’t be worth a [sic] dime!”
William Moya says
JJ says, I urge you to redo the math.
correction jj >>> the “brainwashed idiots” voted for lowe
Just Wait says
Only 26 % voted……… Just think how many more votes would have been added to that 5,102 if citizens really gave a sh*t about this city.
I hope now lowe can crawl back into whatever hole he came out of. I did not vote for Alfin, but wish him luck running this town.
Its looks like voting in this city is become more like a boycott than a duty. Actually embarrassing when you hear or read about people that start complaining and you find out , THEY DIDN’T VOTE.
Jane E K says
Lowe was defeated and that’s music to my ears !!! Thank God common sense prevailed among our voters!
Only 26% voted, good for those who did, for the other 74% don’t complain about city policy you obviously don’ care
The turnout was disappointing, but the result was tremendous for Palm Coast. Liar Lowe losses, again. Dank Dick goes down with him, and along the way distances himself from reality and sinks farther into lies and desperation.
You comments regarding Tori were out of line and have no place in politics. You showed what a low life you truly are.
Maybe Lowe and Dank should go to the Dominican Republic and join Victor for some R and R
Mark Woods says
Glad to see Danklowe failed in their attempt to tear down city hall.
Congratulations to Mayor Alfin, a fine candidate who is an actual citizen not just a resident.
Even though my candidate didn’t win but I want to wish Mr. Alfin all the best. Thank our lucky stars Lowe lost. Hopefully maybe now him and Mullin will move out of state.
NPA Voter says
AMEN … I believe a lot of us feel that way. Time to ‘truly’ drain the Flagler Swamp. How about we all kick in a few bucks to buy a mosquito infested tiny island in the Caribbean, exile Lowe, Danko, Barbos, and Mullins with a week’s rations and water, and let them have the whole thing to themselves to run as they see fit. Get the popcorn.
Glad we finally got a respectable person to represent Palm Coast.
Bill C says
If you add not only Alfin and Manfre’s numbers, but include the other Democrat in the race, Courtney, that adds up to 69.26% of the votes cast, an even greater rebuff of the trumpists.
Yeah, I guess you missed the chapter where Trump’s successor continued all Trump’s policies just as Trump continued Obama’s(war, healthcare, prison, screwing the middle and poor classes.)
Keep playing that Dem vs Rep violin. When will you guys learn it’s the rich vs US, and actually decide to run cities by Parliament/committee?
Jay: you are right, this is a class war and it’s all about money and power.
Trailer Bob says
Well I must say that I am relieved that the crazies didn’t get elected. There is hope for Palm Coast afterall.
Now we wait and see what will come of the shit show in the county with the next county commissioners election.
chuck cap says
Here we go. more housing and no jobs!
It amazes me that the very people who are complaining about housing development in Palm Coast so conveniently manage to forget that they wouldn’t be living here if others who came before had prevented THEIR Housing developments from being built.
“All for me and not for thee”, seems to their motto….more than just a tad bit selfish and hypocritical, I would say. The problem concern at hand is not so much growth as it is “SMART GROWTH.”