Donald O'Brien, who is a past chairman of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Hayward Brown Insurance, said today that he is planning to run for a seat on the Board of County Commissioners, but only if the incumbent, George Hanns, doesn't.
"I think he’s done a good job over the years, and my position is that I would like to continue that, and I would like to follow in his footsteps," O'Brien said today on the phone. "But I don't see that there's any glaring issues with the way he’s served so far, so I’m not looking to say I would be an improvement; I just think I would be ready to step up in the void if there is one."
O'Brien said he last spoke with Hanns about six months ago about the possibilty of running, and he's not sure whether Hanns will retire or not.
In the meantime, O'Brien said, he is attending all County Commission meetings to make sure he is informed, and to make sure that his schedule will really allow him to do the job. He said he is in a good position now, with family and work, to take on a commissioner's schedule.
O'Brien last ran for office when Florida House of Representatitve, District 24, was open two years ago. He filed petitions, raised money and qualified, but then decided not to go through with the campaign, after all.
"The biggest thing was really realizing the time commitment and not having the ability to be away from my business for that long," O'Brien said of his aborted House 24 campaign. But, as a county commissioner, he wouldn't have to be in Tallahassee for two months at a time, so the local office is more realistic.
I also asked him why he would want to run at all?
"It’s just a natural evolution of my service to the community," he said. "I’m a believer in that, in serving the community, and this is the next step in a way I think I can help." O'Brien also serves on the chamber board and on the board of the Early Learning Coalition and the hospital board. He has gone through deaths in the family, as well as the birth of a granddaughter, as well, so he said he feels he has the life experience to add something to the office.
I know Don O'Brien personally. His son, Andrew, was the sports editor for the Observer since we opened the newspaper in 2010, and I have played softball with them off and on. So, personally, I will be rooting for him, but I guess it all depends on George Hanns.
So, George, are you going to run for re-election?