David Ferguson has been interested in politics since he was in sixth grade. He was sitting in a classroom in a Catholic school when a nun came into the room and said that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. He was too young to understand the impact of those words. But when he got home and saw his mother in turmoil, he realized something big had happened. In the days to come, his mother was miserable.
Years prior, he’d watched his mother’s joy over Kennedy’s election. If someone can become so emotionally invested in politics, it must be important, he thought.
And soon, he learned just how important politics are.
“After that, the whole world changed — there was Vietnam, and people smoking pot, people protesting in the streets,” Ferguson said. “It was just a social upheaval.”
From then on, Ferguson started to pay attention to politics.
Ferguson, who was appointed to the Palm Coast City Council in November after Frank Meeker resigned, is finally living his desire to be involved politically after a career in business, including investment and consulting. And he plans to use his opportunity as a person of influence to make some changes in Palm Coast. His plan is not unlike those of other community leaders: Bring more industry to Flagler County. The difference between him and the others, he said, is in execution.
“We need to bring more industry — not just jobs — to this community,” Ferguson said. “We need high-tech companies and startups. I think the way to do that is to make sure that the reputation of Flagler County and Palm Coast is business-friendly, not opposed to business.”
Ferguson, who has owned property in Palm Coast and visited it frequently for years, just became a full-time resident of the county this year. Outside of Flagler County, he said, the perception is that the community isn’t as friendly to small business as places like Volusia County are. He said he wants to change this with an aggressive marketing campaign aimed largely at research universities.
Ferguson has seen businesses fall and succeed, and he said many of the best ideas come out of research institutions. Making sure Palm Coast has the resources needed for industries to develop is imperative, he said, but that’s not enough.
“We need to get more industry here that can bring good jobs, not just jobs at restaurants or in stores,” Ferguson said. “I’m trying to force that rather than facilitate it.”
Along with that, Ferguson wants to make Palm Coast a place where young professionals are more likely to stay.
“I want to keep the retirees happy,” he said, “but I also want to get more recent graduates here.”
In the end, it all comes down to jobs. Ferguson has ideas about partnering with Daytona State College to create a business center that will foster entrepreneurialism and startup companies. But he doesn’t expect things to change overnight.
“The Economic Advisory Council and Helga Van Eckert have a tough job,” Ferguson said. “She’s expected to pull a rabbit out of her hat, when really, that can’t happen.”
Since his appointment, Ferguson’s life has become significantly more hectic, but he doesn’t mind.
“I like being busy,” he said. “If I can be involved and contribute to the community in a way that I can have impact and be productive, that would be very rewarding for me.”