We weren't able to fit everything in print in the Aug. 25 edition, so here is another question that could help voters see where the candidates differ:
QUESTION: While many love living in Palm Coast, we have all heard this complaint: The city is an 800-pound gorilla that won’t play nice with the county. Is this complaint justified? What would you do to address it?
Charles Ericksen Jr.
Yes, I’ve heard people talk about the 800-pound gorilla … When you go into a conference room … you shouldn’t keep asking people who have good ideas to come back and explain economic development and then everybody puts it up on a dart board and throws darts at it.
Where is it we do agree? Where don’t we agree?
I just think the powers need to be a lot more cooperative. The impression is you either play ball with me or I take the ball and go home. That’s a tough perception to overcome.
I think the city has made some progress with the Business Assistance Center — which is pretty similar, though, to what the chamber does for people …
Take the best ideas from everybody, and that’s the plan. Let’s run with it.
The city wants its own plan. It wants its own business center. They want this, they want that. They are 80% of the population in the county, and either the county should buy into it, or the city should back off a little bit, and we can meet in the middle. What’s wrong with everybody having a little piece of the action? If we’ve all got a little bit of ownership in it, it’ll succeed.
The impression out on the street is the 800-pound gorilla is one individual. The charter says the city manager works for the council. I would expect the council to challenge any city manager more on why the city does things. I would challenge the council to become more knowledgeable in how the city is run … I want them to be capable of knowing what skills the manager has, but also at the same time being critical of him or her, because the city manager is not accountable to the people — only to the council. They hire him or fire him.
I don’t think changes in performance have to be confrontational. The worst thing you can do is wait a long period of time to bring a problem to someone’s attention because, by that time, it’s gotten to be a big problem. I just think as soon as it itches, scratch it. If you get information up front, you change to that.
My emphasis is management; it’s not politics. I recognize there are differences there. But I think most of the management skills I have are easily applied to being accountable. I’ll take the blame for something that goes wrong, but I won’t make that same mistake again, and I’ll fix it overnight.
When I was elected four years ago, I made it one of my personal vows to play nice. I think we have historically …
But in my role as mayor, my fiduciary responsibility is with Palm Coast. And there are areas when the city and the county are going to disagree …
We are what we are. We are the city with 75,000 people in a county of 95,000 … If my a particular issue puts me at odds with the county, my first obligation is to my city. My obligation to my county is to be as fair, as equitable, as reasonable as I can be.
These issues (including the impressions that code enforcement is too strict and fees are too high in Palm Coast) are justified from an individual’s perspective, but as a whole, they are not justified. They are the characteristics of being the kind of city that we want to be. They are consequences.
You want to be very careful because if you want to address one of those specific issues, the law of unintended consequences says that you are changing the nature of your city, and that’s not what you want to do.