Abby Romaine: 'I will ensure that our local business community feels appropriately supported.'
Thank you, Palm Coast Observer, for your endorsement. I appreciate and hold in high regard your vote of confidence. I also appreciate this opportunity to weigh in on my positions on our great county’s governance by addressing here my answers in the Election Guide. And I ask the citizens of Flagler County: Are you comfortable with our county operating, as the disparaging adage goes, “Good enough for government work”?
If our government is run with service-minded business principles that put the interests of our populace first, rather than “government as usual,” we can provide for the needs of our community, compensate our deputies and firefighters appropriately, preserve our right to local control of ordinances, promote tourist development, attract and retain new businesses for economic growth and diversify the tax base, without raising taxes.
As your county commissioner, I will work relentlessly to create a government that includes a flexible and dynamic work force, efficient processes, attract and retain businesses, require zero-based budgeting of all county departments and keep taxes low. Flagler deserves better than “good enough for government work.”
Take a look at business development, for example: The best incentive to offer to prospective and current businesses is a streamlined permitting process and support. Business owners tell me the construction and permitting process is cumbersome and confusing.
I also recently heard a story from a local business owner with job vacancies who wanted to participate in a county-promoted job fair but felt unsupported, frustrated and ultimately left without participating. “Good enough for government work” is not good enough for Flagler. We can do better.
As county commissioner, I will reduce red tape and will be a champion and advocate for businesses to locate and expand in Flagler. I will ensure that our local business community feels appropriately supported. We are uniquely suited for the high tech and financial services industries that are flourishing to the north of us, and I will pursue job growth here in those sectors.
Another concern is both a significant economic engine for our community and our local identity: stewardship of our natural environment. Flagler’s beaches, Intracoastal Waterway, parks and countryside are unparalleled in beauty. It is why most of us moved here and why the tourists come to visit.
Tourist development is an important part of our economy, and we currently have significant revenue from bed tax to promote it. As county commissioner, I would re-evaluate the use of these funds, directing a larger percentage to beach restoration. I would require that we demonstrate a positive return on all initiatives by having accountability structures in place, because “good enough for government work” is not good enough for Flagler.
Our current county administrator’s performance is good enough for government work, too. His tenure is known for inadequate and at times combative relationships with our municipalities; the mismanagement of a “sick” Sheriff’s Operations Center and potential civil litigation against the county; and Sherman Salary-gate. After 10 years of sustained pressure from the community, we are just now seeing some work being done to address the serious drainage issues in the Hammock. Conversely, we have impassable roads and poor water quality in the west side of the county — an area that seems to have been forgotten by our county administration. Appropriate maintenance of infrastructure is a basic requirement of county government. Good enough for government work is not good enough for Flagler.
As your county commissioner, I will be responsive to the needs of the community and promote a service-excellence culture at the government services building, where employees are crossed-trained, and are empowered and rewarded for participating in improving services and finding efficiencies.
I am not satisfied with “good enough for government work.” I am raising my family here in Flagler County, and I have firsthand knowledge and experience with the needs, struggles and triumphs of the community. I have been a volunteer at Flagler County schools, volunteered with my kids at Bunnell food pantry and painted houses with Habitat for Humanity, served on the Hammock Conservation Coalition in service to the great people of Flagler County, and I can tell you that not only is Flagler unparalleled in its natural beauty, but our people are a beautifully talented, innovative, resilient, creative, smart and wonderful bunch!
Our community deserves government leadership that will be responsive to and support the strengths and gifts of our people and put the public’s interest, rather than special interests, first. I will work tirelessly as a steward of Flagler’s economic, human and environmental resources as your next county commissioner, because our people deserve better than “good enough for government work.”
Abby Romaine is a candidate for County Commission, District 4.
Editor's Note: With regard to the job fair, Flagler County's Economic Opportunity Department director, Helga van Eckert, stated: "The only condition for a company to attend the annual county job fair is that they have jobs available. We would never turn a company away unless we were at capacity. Actually, at our event last February, we had over 50 companies in attendance and added a room to include late registrations. No one was turned away. ... We’re very proud of the success of the job fair and the partnership with DSC, CareerSource and the Chamber."