David Ferguson will be Palm Coast’s newest City Council member, filling the District 2 seat vacated by Frank Meeker when he ran for and was elected to the Flagler County Board of County Commission.
The Palm Coast City Council appointed Ferguson as the newest council member in at a special meeting Tuesday.
At a regular meeting last week, the council announced its top four applicants — Robert Uhl, Lynnette Callender, Norman Mugford and Ferguson — selected from 16 who applied.
At Tuesday's special meeting, the council narrowed the four to two semi-finalists: Mugford and Ferguson. Ferguson won the seat in a 3-1 vote.
Ferguson said that, as councilman, he hopes to contribute to economic development by attracting clean industry, to increase the quality of education, and to improve life for all members of the community.
“The opportunity for the citizens of Palm Coast needs to shared equally among all constituents, rather than just the wealthy people and the retirees,” Ferguson said.
His background is largely in business. He started working as a senior manager in a chemical company based in Jacksonville in 1983.
In 1987, he and five other members purchased the company and seven years later, sold it at ten times its purchase price. He’s also been involved in raising capital to found a bank, worked in angel investing in Jacksonville and has consulted both for small businesses and for chemical companies.
Ferguson and his wife have been long-time visitors of Palm Coast — they purchased a condominium here in 2003 — and moved here permanently in June.
“Flagler’s its own little entity,” Ferguson said. “I’ve been watching from Jacksonville for years.”
This is Ferguson’s first political position, but he said he’s had a “bug for politics” for most of his life, and that he wants to use his business background to foster economic growth in Palm Coast.
“I’m still a rookie here,” he said. “But I have a lot of ideas, and I want to contribute.”
Before the council appointed Ferguson, City Attorney William Reichsman addressed questions of a possible Florida Sunshine Law violation raised by the selection process raised by an attorney from the First Amendment Foundation.
After Meeker resigned from his position to run for County Commission, Palm Coast opened applications to the public. There were 16 valid applications received, which were given to council members to review and rank separately. The applications were also available to the public, Reichsman said.
Council members were told not to discuss the applications among themselves or with anyone else. They reviewed and ranked applicants from most to least qualified. Those rankings were added together, and the four candidates with the lowest combined scores were invited to interview.
“From what I can understand the specific allegations (are saying) that somehow, the rankings that you do … had to be done in a public meeting,” Reichsman said.
But there is no case law to support that, Reichsman said, calling the selection process “totally appropriate.”
To be safe, City Council formalized its recognition of the top four applicants for the District 2 seat by reviewing the rankings and moving and voting approval, which Reichsman said could help the council circumvent any legal issues that may arise.
Ferguson will be sworn in Nov. 20.