Will Furry, the candidate for school board in the District 2 race he’s contesting against Courtney VandeBunte, comes across as a genial, God-fearing Everyman who wants to be your friend. He has that innate instinct combining skin-temperature warmth with salesmanship, a foxiness that makes it easy to connect, easy to talk. Also, easy to be fooled. Because something else entirely is at play here.
Sleaze is sleaze. You either reject it or embrace it. Furry embraces it.
It’s not a party thing. Look back at our own recent races. Andy Dance, Cheryl Massaro, David Alfin, Greg Hansen, Tucker, Fernando Melendez, Theresa Pontieri: all Republicans, some of them archly so. They all mostly rejected sleaze. Or at least didn’t embrace it, peddle it, run with it. They ran (or are still running) on their record. If they don’t have a record in public office yet, they run on their resume rather than on fabrications about their opponents. In local elections, that’s all you ask for. Ideology should have no place in the discussion, smears and sleaze even less so.
But we’re in a democracy: Athenians at the height of theirs put Socrates to death, remember, and we certainly have no Pericles to speak of in ours these days. We inevitably get the candidates who run with sleaze, the poison-peddlers I wrote about after the primary, when voters thankfully threw out three of the worst.
Furry was among the peddlers because by then he’d already amassed a record of transgressions showing his ease with sleaze. He was caught on video at a school function at Old Kings Elementary distributing campaign materials, to the principal’s dismay: “If it was brought to my attention or had I known this was happening, I would have put a stop to it immediately, as it is against School Board policy to hand out election materials on our campuses,” the principal wrote me. Yet Furry is concerned about the “lawlessness” on our school board.
Furry was a willing participant in Parkview Church’s brazenly illegal use of its non-profit status to endorse him and fellow School Board candidates (at the time) Jill Woolbright and Christy Chong. He didn’t, like Woolbright at another church stage, call school staff evil. Just lawless. And he used the occasion to explain his “journey of faith”–how a Realtor with no experience in education, with no degree in education (no degree in anything, actually) got interested in kids, when even a mission trip to “minister” kids in Guatemala didn’t do it for him. “I kinda put up some walls,” Furry said, “and I said to God, I’ll do anything you want, just don’t put me with the kids. You know, I got two, and that’s enough for me, right?” There are 13,000 kids in the Flagler County school district.
Somehow a two-hour conversation with Greg Peters, the pastor at Parkview, and a $1,000 check from Peters (“Will’s my guy”) changed his mind. Furry could look after the education of those 13,000 after all. “I felt God called me into this,” he said, offering a campaign plank he’s not dared put on his campaign fliers: “The talents and gifts God gives us, we’re not to advance our own kingdom, they’re to build his.” God’s own school impact fees, I imagine. You could hear the evangelical’s garden-variety dog-whistling: Christian? Check. Jews, Muslims, Hindus? Second class. Non-believers? Don’t ask.
Let’s continue down Furry’s “journey of faith.” During the primary he was happily handing out that flier portraying VandeBunte, Trevor Tucker and Sally Hunt as criminals and fabricating charges about them supporting academic concepts Furry calls “indoctrination.” The concepts don’t exist in Flagler schools. They’re like that election fraud Big Lie devotees keep inventing. Furry knows at least that much, though you can bet he wouldn’t know critical race theory from City Repertory Theatre. But you can get mileage out of lies when sleaze is your North Star. So he embraces the lie as one more milepost on his “journey of faith.”
You’d think he’d calm down after the primary, pivot a bit to the center. This week his campaign doubled down. First there was that double-barreled mailing from the same shop of fabrications–same stock, same fonts, same day delivery, the pair obviously intended as a compare-and-contrast ploy. One is an outright lie, but a clever one: it poses as a mailer Courtney VandeBunte herself supposedly sent out, portraying it (and her) as a radical liberal fighting DeSantis all the way. The other is straight Furry, though it makes you wish he and DeSantis got a room: it looks like those old MySpace pages vaguely sinister middle aged men put out about their crushes.
The sleaze here is in the delivery: the alleged VandeBunte mailing comes from a PAC called “Flagler Forever.” Its deceptive local address goes back to a mailbox at the Island Walk UPS in Palm Coast, taken out this month just for the purpose to mask the fact that it’s actually from the same family of political action committees pushing Furry.
Follow the PACs: it’s a clinic in dark money with common denominators like Central Florida Solutions, which dropped $40,000 into the Furry-backing PAC that created the alleged VandeBunte mailing, and that has the same treasurer–the ubiquitous Noreen A. Fenner–as, you guessed it: Flagler Forever. Furry can thank Citizens United. It’s a shell game designed to mask, confuse, deceive, to ensure that the dark money keeps flowing, and to keep creating these equally deceptive campaign fliers.
The fliers mirror the lies he’s peddling with abandon. A Furry television commercial pushed by the same PAC is, among other idiocies, accusing VandeBunte of supporting “sexually explicit books for kindergarteners,” something not even Woolbright at the height of her Comstockery ever alleged. The source of the claim? VandeBunte’s endorsement by Equality Florida (a human and civil rights organization!), which of course says nothing about explicit books for kindergarteners. It’s like saying that because DeSantis endorsed Furry, Furry supports white supremacists and human trafficking since, after all, DeSantis never denounced his Neo-Nazi supporters and misused state funds to ship migrants around the country. But accusing Furry of DeSantis’s sins would be unfair.
To Furry, demonizing VandeBunte is a pit stop on his “journey of faith.” He can’t compete with VandeBunte on the merits: she’s a graduate of Flagler County schools and Florida State, she has a degree of course (in education), she taught science and social studies in Flagler schools for a decade, she was a Teacher of the Year at Flagler Palm Coast High School, she’s now a curriculum developer for Harvard University’s Lab Exchange, she’s a mom of three (in Flagler schools).
And still, Furry smears. He deceives. He Fabricates. He lies. It’s a wonder he hasn’t ripped a page from Woolbright’s playbook and brought VandeBunte up on charges yet. Maybe he’s saving it for the “lawlessness” of his school district colleagues and staff. That’s the sleaze he’s hoping to convert into a school board seat still warm from a predecessor’s mirror image.
Whatever your party may be, whatever your values may be: In your heart, you know he’s wrong.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here.
Robert Cuff says
Well said. I hope Flagler voters who actually care about our students compare the tactics Mr. Furry is willing to employ to the actual qualification of Courtney VanderBunte and her unwillingness to stoop to Mr. Furry’s and his minions’ level.
If you’ll lie to get the job, you’ll lie when you get the job.
Our schools and our students are far too important to reward Mr. Furry’s level of sleaze and deception with any public office.
“If you’ll lie to get the job, you’ll lie when you get the job.”
Very well said Attorney Cuff. Thank you.
I fear him..... says
In the name of the Father, the Son and the holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father please do not let Mr.Furry win this election. He will never be the bastion of protection for the children and the citizens.
His thug like ways are not welcome please allow him to learn from his evil ways and repent.
In your name, Amen.
Deborah Coffey says
Matthew 7: 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
“But accusing Furry of DeSantis’s sins would be unfair.”, please go ahead and write more about the sleaze ball it’s the only way some Voters may actually see the light other than in their houses of christian-fascism. Thank you Pierre!!
Old Guy says
So much sleaze to spread and not much time left to spread it. Thanks Pierre, for keeping us informed.
Is Furry the kind of person we want in charge of our children’s education? Is this how low we are willing to stoop? Anyone who thinks he is a good choice for our school board is an idiot. Yes. I said it!
There is another option. Those who think he is a good choice (better than his qualified opponent), could just be evil. Their intent is to disrupt, degrade and destroy public schools. Their hope is to drive parents, who wish their children to get a good education, into private for profit schools. Follow the money; this is about money and power.
“Parental Choice” is another attack on public schools.
Public schools have helped to unify our country. They cause children of all backgrounds, religious beliefs, races to mix. This is an anathema to antebellum loving MAGA right.
Steve Playe says
Will Flurry’s “journey of faith” would be laughable if it didn’t threaten the education of our schoolchildren. He should be ashamed, and repent.
If a candidate has nothing of his or her own to run on and instead must resort to this kind of dirty campaign, you have everything you need to know about that candidate’s qualifications and character. DeSantis got this one wrong.
Figures he is part of PBC and one of Greg’s “guys”. I wouldn’t trust or vote for anyone PBC or Peters endorses. This is a pastor who endorsed Trump in 2016 and look how that has turned out. Christians are destroying this once great nation with their hypocrisy and self-righteous beliefs. They want group think and everyone to only believe what they believe. Scary.
Timothy Patrick Welch says
Remember most non-profits fall under this tax law.
I would speculate that non-religious non-profits are more frequent violators of this tax law.
Some are routinely seen in the media supporting or attacking policy makers.
Most non-profit non-religious organization have an associated financially separate political group. Planned Parenthood is an example. Donations to Planned Parenthood are tax deductible. However, donations to Planned Parenthood Action Fund are not. I believe you are confusing the two.
Parkview Church should have a separate, not tax deductible, collection for political purposes.
Andy B says
Your dirt bag comments will not work!
Pierre, Lord knows I don’t always agree with you, but I respect your right to your opinion ( especially since this is your forum) but I am having a hard time beliveing any of these people regardless of party. It seems all they want is power and the people be damned! I hope we can all agree public servants work for us and not the other way around ….. think and research before you vote! Party isn’t everything
Deborah C. says
Separation of church and state. Or in this case a middle age man who suddenly loves and cares about children with no education in the respective field. Is this really a concern over the imaginary indoctrination of children, or could it be one man’s fetish?
The dude says
I was a little shocked, but politely replied “ no thanks” when the dude walked up on me and tried to hand me his campaign shit as I stood in line for my daughter’s 5th grade graduation at OKE last May. Then I noticed his car pulled right up on the curb right in front of the auditorium with all his campaign signs stuck on it.
I’m not sure how the staff at OKE didn’t “see” any of this going on, or did they just ignore it?
Anyway, hard NO on Furry. He’d be just as bad as McDonald or Woolbright should he be elected.
Nancy N. says
Staff were probably afraid that if they tried to stop him, and then he was elected, they would face retaliation. Because we’ve seen that kind of crap pulled by some of his buddies in the past. And that’s just another example of why he should NOT be elected.
School board has lost its purpose, it was never meant to be political, unfortunately, today everything has been divided by the Political hacks!
Palm coast residents, hopefully you will pick the best fit candidates because its our children future at stake . School boards need to be removed from the chains of the political hacks!
In the school board race Vote not for R or D put for ABC & 123
Jony B says
Pierre, You and every other commenter has missed naming those who invented this guy and are pulling his strings now and will eventually be controlling him if he gets onto the school
board: discredited Fake Pastor Jearlyn Dennie, the Dennis and Janet McDonalds, Jill Woolbright, Joe Mullins, Alan
Lowe and Quinon
minions. Furry believes he is already elected. DeSantis has made another wrong pick for Flagler. Furry
is campaigning with
Lowe while Lowe is campaigning against continuation of the half cent tax. Nothing personal, but Furry is just a stupid dupe of the worst of Flagler’s radicals.
Will’s a mistake says
I’m a Republican in the campaign circle and am voting for Courtney, who I would typically never vote for. The reason? My experience being around Furry has found him to be the following:
1. Dumb- he doesn’t even understand what the job entails and early in the primary made a comment alluding to needing the job because real estate market is going down
2. Lazy -He does zero act campaign work, isn’t a team player and rests on the fact that he’s endorsed by the Governor to get the job done for him. The fact is the Governor didn’t want to endorse him in the primary because of his past. The Governor was forced to endorse him this go around because Jill lost and there are now too many leaning left for the party on that board.
3. Gossip- He gossips constantly about others, trashes his opponent to voters going as low as to call her a bad mother.
4. Fiscal record- the shear amount of foreclosures over a course of several years, moving around, changing career paths show me an unstable person not fit to govern over my tax dollar.
Republican Party: candidate selection is critical and you bombed with yours this season for school board.
Republicans just don’t vote at all in this race.
Michael Cocchiola says
We must stop Furry and his culture war on education on November 8. We’ve had enough of that for eight years with Janet McDonald and Jill Woolbright. Should Furry win, he will channel McDonald and Woolbright. Haven’t we had enough of their disruption and divisiveness?
Vote for the students, parents, teachers, and staff. Vote for a professional educator. Vote for Courtney VandeBunte.
Pierre thank you for the exposé it is interesting reading.
However, I knew who this guy was when I saw his picture in the article you published, The Passion of The Woolbright
August 19, 2022.
And toss in Christy Chong for good measure, they are both peas in the same pod, one just tries to mask
it better than the other.
Does not surprise me. His campaign wire sign was displayed for a long time in the front lawn of a Farragut Drive house along several Trump flags that were okay but one huge flag that displays a F…Biden complete spelling. What message will be taught to our students if elected? Vanderbunte should be elected. If we don’t show respect to our institutional offices how can we expect to prevent chaos?
Are you kidding me? says
The Flagler Live interview has a link to his resume. He actually put “School of Hard Knocks” under “Canyon High School” in the education section. Would you trust a person who puts that as his or her education?
If I was looking for a realtor I wouldn’t hire him I might use him to pick up my trash know that would be insulting trash collectors
Totally despicable what Will Furry has done. Of course, he will claim he knew nothing of what this PAC did. He can’t win on his merits, so he has to resort to fabrications and trash VandeBunte.
In the Flagler commission race, some research shows that Leanne Pennington may not be the squeaky-clean candidate people thinks she is. She has already taken a $1000 campaign contribution from one of the owners of ‘Captains Barbecue’ at Bings Landing. The problem here is that they have been involved in a lawsuit with the county for the last three years at a cost to the taxpayers of $77,000. If elected, how could she credibly vote on any actions involving these people? Worse still, there is talk that she has been taking money from developers and not reporting it. Do your own research, there is little known about Pennington and what she truly stands for.
A better choice for the Flagler commission would be Jane Gentile-Youd. People may not agree with her on every issue or the fact that she speaks her mind but isn’t that what the county needs right now.
I will be voting for Gentile-Youd, she would never take money from anyone suing the county. She has a 20-year track record of fighting for the people of Flagler County and the only credible candidate for Flagler County commission.
To nobadycares, what a funny name for someone who cares enough to spread lies and rumors about Ms Pennington. Your words ‘there has been talk of her taking money from developers and not reporting it,’ who is doing the talking? Please produce names. I have researched her and all her financial reporting quite extensively and it is not there! Another falsehood to discredit a candidate. Some of our candidates, in their efforst to gain votes have gone way out of bounds attacking their opponents with lies and fabrications. Mr. Furry is one of them. I was distressed by the recent mailings. I was one voter who liked and respected him and his platform…not any more. I attended one of the forums with all the local candidates recently, hoping to hear more from Furry in his response to the questions from the moderators. He kept reinterating that he was endorsed by the Governor. The rest was dead air, due to the fact that he has no experience in education. I have to say that I was impressed with how Ms. VandeBunte responded to all the questions. She is very knowledgeable about the working of our schools and I feel she would be a great asset to the school board.
Has NO ONE taken the time to probe Pennington? Who is she? Where did she come from? She states she is a homemaker but also stated she is a financial executive for a Canadian company? No licenses? No resume? Why is she taking campaign contributions from people currently suing the county? Check out her history. Why did gangs shoot out her front door? The only person assassinating Youd for every little speck of dust is this keyboard warrior and her motley crew. Check out her biggest supporters too. Where there is smoke, there is fire. She has an agenda and it is not have the well-being of Flager citizen’s in mind. She is spewing fluff. What is her real agenda? Youd’s every move has been exposed and yet no one has done their homework on Pennington. Why?a
That’s an incredibly false statement made about taking money without reporting.
Furthermore, the question was asked by Flagler Live and responded to regarding the funds from captains BBQ owner.
Youd took funds from a Miami Developer. Should we question any future bias she may have? Did you ever question all the other candidates who received funds from Captains or others who they actually voted on projects for?
Don’t go low with falsehoods- it’s unbecoming.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
To Ridiculous: Miami Developer is a personal friend ( his mom was a second mother to me) since 1981. He has no designs on Flagler County. He has lived and worked his entire life in Miami-Dade County. I have spoken against what I think is terrible zoning as recently as this year when I protested against zoning change of 23 acres for a mega block storage facility near Toscana and Hidden Lakes in Palm Coast – over 14 miles from my home! This rezoning has no effect on me personally but it does affect my v a l u e s.
My time, my dime and my big civic minded heart trying to prevent an incompatible land use adjacent to expensive single family homes. So please don’t make allegations you can’t back up against me. There is more than enough of that kind of ‘stuff’
Ridiculous; your false accusations about Jane Gentile Youd will come back to haunt you ! She is not sold to anyone and she has been attending the FCBOCC meetings since the early 2,00o’s and always supporting the residents request to preserve their quality of life, safety and value of their homes! She is more a community advocate than a realtor as she spends more time lobbying the FCBOCC and also the City of Palm Coast officials live with her 3 minutes speech than she does in her professional interest. Her knowledge of local issues for such a long time deserves the community she defends vote!
Agreed with nobodycares!
This woman is a nut case. Good God, people, STUDY your candidates!
What a loser says
Furry sucks. Do not vote Furry.. lol.
Joseph Barand says
Not much of a Realtor either, have you ever seen him with a sale or even a listing. Another failed Realtor looking for a job at the public’s expense.
Thank you for de-Furry’ing my Facebook!
You failed up north, you will fail down here.
Donald Trump/Joe Mullins 2.0.
Some people never learn. And they are seemingly darn proud of that fact!
you fools you know the red wave is comming your communist idealogy
is sinking like the titanic with your ungodly man in the whitehouse and
his chief demons who just divide a nation not unite.all you fools do is bash
people who stand for decency.
The dude says
Can anybody here translate gibberish?
I believe this is of the “unhinged” dialect?
another Looney Tune passing gas in Palm Coast
The indoctrination started in public schools here decades ago…ehh emm. Go over to Matanzas High. They have a massive trans fist sign on the door of the classroom. There was recently a state test given to 12 yr old kids that had a “getting to know you section” asking the student’s pronouns .. and it was for MATH. That was at a local charter elementary school.
And honestly, I am not sure I am buying the “sleaze” aspect of a dude who would dedicate his time and money to volunteer in a 3rd world country. If anything that shows humility and Guatemala is one of the most dangerous… so… please tell me the part that is wrong about venturing out to international places and experiencing different culture is sleaze. Our state has a huge Hispanic population so that actually says a lot about what an understanding professional he might be as a school board official, no?
Your biased “journalism” is shown in the mere fact that you write an opinion-based article but then TELL your reader what to do rather than share info and let them come to their own intellectual decision.
The most comical nature of your piece is your over-use of ” “. Lol
Where did YOU go to school and study “journalism”. Because with an article so full of biased disdain, one would assume that you are indeed the uneducated fool in this whole debacle. You actually make me want to look into him more…and quite possibly vote for the guy.
Dios te bendiga.
Tired of it says
In his own words: “Furry said, “and I said to God, I’ll do anything you want, just don’t put me with the kids. You know, I got two, and that’s enough for me, right?”
A “trans fist sign” really? What does Flurry have to do with the Hispanic population? You gloss over his lack of qualifications and his deceptive mailer. This is who you would want influencing your children’s education? And then you insult the writer of the article and hypocritically ask God to bless him?
Ridiculous; your false accusations about Jane Gentile Youd will come back to haunt you ! She is not sold to anyone and she has been attending the FCBOCC meetings since the early 2,00o’s and always supporting the residents request to preserve their quality of life, safety and value of their homes! She is more a community advocate than a realtor as she spends more time lobbying the FCBOCC and also the City of Palm Coast officials live with her 3 minutes speech than she does in her professional interest. Her knowledge of local issues for such a long time deserves the community she defends their vote!
Worth to watch and think while going to vote: https://youtu.be/z8zbwc2Cj54?t=6406
if the above is good enough for you to vote 4Jane please send to all your friends before 7PM tomorrow when the polls close. A vote for Jane is a vote for YOU and all of US no matter where you live or vote in Flagler County
Candidate for Flagler County Commission.