Seeking to fill a void in Flagler County during the 2020 election cycle the Flagler Tiger Bay Club will host back-to-back candidate forums at 6 p.m. on September 23 and 24.
The hourlong forums will feature all, or nearly all, candidates running in local elections, with candidates for the Flagler County Commission and for Sheriff on Wednesday, and the candidates for Palm Coast Mayor and the Palm Coast City Council on Thursday.
The in-person portion of the forum is open only to the candidates, the moderator and the panel asking questions, and members of the media. But the forum will be widely available live on WNZF radio, 94.9 FM, on Facebook and possibly on the county’s YouTube channel. WNZF’s Facebook page and Tiger Bay’s Facebook page will both stream the event.
Reflecting Tiger Bay’s non-partisan approach, questions will be asked of participating candidates by a four person bi-partisan panel consisting of Gail Wadsworth, a Republican active in the local Republican Party (and the former, long-time Flagler County Clerk of Court), Teldra Jones, vice president of the Democratic Women’s Club of Flagler County, Gary Walsh, an independent and founding member of Flagler’s Tiger Bay, and Walker Douglas, a member of the Young Executives.
The forum will be moderated by Howard Holley, a former Republican candidate for the county commission, a member of the Tiger Bay board of directors, and the CEO and publisher of TouchPoint Innovative Solutions.
The candidates in the running for the County Commission are incumbent Donald O’Brien in District 5, a Republican who faces a challenge from two independents, Denise Calderwood and Paul Anderson; and two candidates vying for the District 1 seat Charlie Ericksen is not contesting for a third term: Republican Andy Dance, the school board member for the past decade, and Democrat Corinne Hermle, an environmental consultant with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The race for District 3 was decided in the primary, when incumbent Dave Sullivan narrowly defeated Kim Carney, who’d resigned her seat on the Flagler Beach City Commission to challenge Sullivan.
The race for sheriff has been the quietest in two decades, with the incumbent, Rick Staly, drawing no primary challenge in at least 28 years (since 1992). Staly was the winner of one of the hardest-fought primaries four years ago, when he was one of six Republican candidates. This year he faces Democrat Larry Jones in a rematch of the 2016 general election. Jones is a retired Sergeant from the sheriff’s office, where he had a three-decade career.
It’ll be busier on the second evening of the forum as candidates in three races for the Palm Coast City Council take the dais. The races for council are ostensibly non-partisan. But no one abides by that anymore as both parties overtly or covertly play up nominees, not always in the background.
In the race for mayor, incumbent Republican Milissa Holland faces challenger Alan Lowe, also a Republican, in a runoff. In the race for District 3, Republican Incumbent Nick Klufas is in a runoff against Democrat Cornelia Manfre, the Realtor. And in the race for District 1, the seat currently held by Bob Cuff (he decided not to run again), Democrat Sims Jones, a pastor who ran for the seat four years ago, and Republican Ed Danko, retired after a career with television news organizations, are in a runoff.
That would have normally been it. But the resignation of Jack Howell from the District 2 seat earlier this year necessitated a special election to fill the remaining two years in Howell’s term. That special election is being held concurrently with the other elections on Nov. 3. It has drawn four candidates–three Republicans and a Democrat. The Republicans are David Alfin, a Realtor, Victor Barbosa, a barber who owns the Man Cave Barber Lounge (“for real men and the women who love them”) and has closely aligned his race with Donald Trump, and Dennis McDonald. McDonald is a candidate for the fifth time. His fourth straight loss, in 2018, when he ran for Palm Coast mayor, helped him surpass Doug Courtney as the county’s candidate with the most electoral losses. McDonald also ran for county commission twice and for the Florida Senate.
On the Democratic side, it’s Bob Coffman, an American Airlines pilot, the former president of the local Democratic Club and a former candidate, briefly, for the 6th Congressional District (he left the race before the election).
“We believe Flagler Tiger Bay Club, an unbiased, nonpartisan political club that focuses on civility and does not endorse candidates, is the right organization to host these forums, in line with our mission,” Greg Davis, Tiger Bay’s president, said. “So far the vast majority of candidates have welcomed this opportunity and indicated they will be participating. Voters will be able to comparatively hear candidates’ thoughts and views for themselves and hopefully this will assist them in deciding who is best to serve our community. I want to thank all of our sponsors for their donations and commitment to our community, who stepped up and are making this event possible. I also want to thank our committees, suppliers, and volunteers for their extraordinary effort in making this happen in a relatively short time frame.”
Presented by the Flagler Tiger Bay Club, the event is made possible by sponsors including Chiumento, Dwyer, Hertel & Grant Attorneys at Law, Douglas Property & Development, Innovative Financial Solutions, S.E. Cline Construction, and Waste Pro, as a community service.
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