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Palm Coast Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2022 3 months ago

City Council selects school district administrator John Fanelli to fill vacant council seat through November

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Eight people had applied for the position, and the City Council praised the quality of the applicant pool.
by: Jonathan Simmons Senior Editor

John Fanelli, Flagler Schools' coordinator of student supports and behavior and a former local school principal, will fill the District 2 Palm Coast City Council seat vacated by former councilman Victor Barbosa

"Over the years, I have grown up loving and utilizing all of the wonderful amenities that are available to us here in Palm Coast," Fanelli said in a brief address to the City Council on March 22 before he was chosen for the seat. "I believe that the leadership opportunities that I've been afforded over the past 21 years in education have prepared me to represent the citizens of District 2."

"I believe that the leadership opportunities that I've been afforded over the past 21 years in education have prepared me to represent the citizens of District 2."

 

— JOHN FANELLI

The City Council selected Fanelli in a 3-1 vote at a special meeting on March 22. Council members, before the vote, had praised Fanelli's leadership experience and said his connections with the school district presented an opportunity for the city to improve its relationship with the school system.

Councilman Nick Klufas was the dissenting vote: He'd spoken favorably of Fanelli, but expressed concern that Fanelli's role with the school district might present a conflict with his position on the council.

One other applicant, the local builder Antonio Amaral Jr., had also made the City Council's shortlist before Mayor David Alfin cast the deciding vote in favor of Fanelli.

Eight people — Fanelli, Amaral Jr., Bob Coffman, Hung Hilton, Carl Jones, Larry Gross, Perry Mitrano and William Schreiber — had applied for appointment to the vacant City Council seat by the time the application period for the temporary appointment closed on March 16.

Each gave the council their word that they would not run for the District 2 seat in November if the council chose them for the temporary position. 

After interviewing each candidate for about 25 minutes the morning of March 22, the City Council convened for a vote. 

Councilman Eddie Branquinho said he favored Amaral for his knowledge about the city, but was torn between Amaral and Fanelli. 

"His resume is fantastic," Branquinho said of Fanelli. "He has got one thing in common with me, which is a feeling toward education. He's got the administrative and operational knowledge."

Fanelli, he added, could also "open a door" between the city and the School Board. 

Councilman Ed Danko said he agreed. 

"All of these people were wonderful," Danko said. "...  But I do agree with the educational door."

Klufas initially echoed his fellow council members' enthusiasm for Fanelli.

"I think he is one of the most genuine people that we, potentially, have in our community, that is the conduit for taking individuals from our education system and making them into members of our society," Klufas said. "That's huge. And it's genuine, and I have overall 'good vibes' when he's up here speaking."

But Klufas wondered about the practicalities of having a council member who's an employee of the school district, especially when the the city and the school district may be in the position of negotiating over the future of the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club.

Alfin supported Fanelli.

"My focus is on who brings the most for this relatively short period of time," he said. "It's vitally important that we get best tools that we can for the process that we are about to begin."

The councilmen praised the quality of the applicant pool, noting that the city had managed to get eight strong applicants for the vacant seat that would be filled by appointment, but that only three people have actually filed to run for the seat in the general election. 

"It would be my hope that those that are not chosen today would certainly consider serving the city in some capacity," Alfin said, "if not, perhaps, in the upcoming election ... certainly in some committee or in some other way."

Fanelli was sworn in by City Clerk Virginia Smith after the vote, and took his seat at the dais for a City Council Special Budget workshop.

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