Readers respond to Observer endorsements

What's your opinion on the races for mayor, sheriff, county, city and schools?
By: 
Aug. 16, 2016

(See the Observer endorsements here. Send letters to editor@palmcoastobserver.com. Include first and last name, as well as city of residence. Editor may alter the letter for clarity and/or length.)

Palm Coast Mayor

Milissa Holland: extensive experience

Dear Editor:

My husband and I will vote for Milissa Holland as mayor of Palm Coast, as her credentials outshine the other candidates.

She has extensive experience representing the people in various areas of government and has demonstrated her ability to improve the working relationship between the city and county. Milissa has pledged to continue her work on this relationship. 

These assets are of particular importance this year as the council majority will have new members inexperienced in local government, and the remaining members will have been in office for only a couple of years. In addition, she has formed relationships at the state level, which is of utmost importance when the city seeks to identify and secure available funding for projects.

We applaud her interest in pursuing economic and job growth. She has already made contact with business leaders to identify some of their needs and has formulated ideas on how the city can work with our local education structure to enhance the skills of the local job pool. She has identified areas that the city can improve on, such as permitting and enhancing our technological infrastructure — necessities not only for our present residents and businesses but to attract other companies. 

She is aware of the importance for the city to respond in a timely and cooperative fashion to the needs of the citizens and has recommendations on how this can be better accomplished.

We are pleased that Milissa recognizes the role of the city’s natural resources and recreational activities such as parks, community centers, biking paths, tennis and golf facilities but also that she is willing to pursue measures to seek other sources of funding in order to maintain them. Not all residents will utilize these facilities but they are an important asset to attract newcomers and businesses. 

Retirees and workers, considering a move to Palm Coast, will have expectations that these amenities are available within the city and not just in gated communities. They serve an important function of any city and can only enhance property values.

Having highlighted just a few of the areas where Milissa has pledged to work for the citizens of Palm Coast, with government and businesses what struck us the most was her awareness of the need for cooperation between our government entities and her pride in the city of Palm Coast.

Morgan and Margaret Evans

Palm Coast

 

Milissa Holland made time for one voter

Dear Editor:

I’m a retired insurance executive, now living in Palm Coast. The Palm Coast political scene has not been on my radar until this year.

I’m friends with Milissa Holland’s campaign manager and asked for a one-on-one with Milissa to get more detail on her views and vision for Palm Coast. Tell me now how many political candidates running for any office in any city would give up one hour of their valuable time to one voter, without commitment expectations. Milissa did!

She is a “whisperer’ with a soft tome but very vocal on the direction our city needs to move forward. Since our first meeting, I’ve had the pleasure to be with her in various outings, and she is the “real deal.” To coin a realty term. I’m “sold” on Milissa as our next mayor.

Bill Luther

Palm Coast

 

Holland is a voice for the environment

Dear Editor:

I supported Milissa Holland when she was a county commissioner and look forward to voting for her as Palm Coast mayor. She will work to help recreation, parks and natural resources thrive. She will create a better working relationship with county government. She has my vote and confidence.

Carol Ogden

Palm Coast

 

Not so fast! I’m voting for Dennis McDonald

Dear Editor:

I believe that Palm Coast needs a new direction, and, in the last few elections, voters have narrowly missed opportunities to change the leadership of both the city of Palm Coast and Flagler County from the insiders who know better than the people than real representatives of the voters.

Milissa Holland is definitely not the person to provide new leadership. She is a nice enough person but seems to have a lack of any real ideals and philosophies to move the city forward. She changed political parties a la Charlie Crist, another politician who goes where the wind blows. The voters seemed to catch on to Ms. Holland when she lost her last election.

What has she been doing since then? Why has she stayed in politics, working for the Southern Strategy Group, a lobbying firm who championed, among other things, the much-hated red light cameras?

Does Ms. Holland think that we would not find out about this? Do we really want someone who would advocate for something like the red light cameras that the will of the people actually successfully ousted (mostly) from our community?

I don’t think Ms. Holland has the philosophy nor knowledge of what our city needs to move past the Netts era to the future. We need someone who will stand up to the powers that be and who is not afraid to offend the various constituencies that keep their hands in the pockets of taxpayers. I am voting for Dennis McDonald as he is exactly who we need to shift gears and move forward in 2017.

Mike McGuire

Palm Coast

 

Flagler County Sheriff

I stood up to two corrupt sheriffs

Dear Editor:

First, I would like to thank the Palm Coast Observer for endorsing me for sheriff of Flagler County. However, in the endorsement you alluded that my career has been controversial. What you failed to mention is that I stood up to ethically corrupt sheriffs both as a citizen and law enforcement officer.

Upon my retirement from Orange County, the sheriff wrote, “I have always found [Rick] to be knowledgeable, dependable, ethical and professional. His personal integrity is of the highest level and beyond reproach” (emphasis added). 

Three years after my retirement, I observed questionable activities by the sheriff and some of his executive staff and decided to run for sheriff to give the voters a choice. During the campaign, I raised these ethical issues. After I lost the race, the final piece of evidence of violating the law became available and, four years after my retirement, I filed an ethics complaint, which was investigated by the state. The result was that the sheriff was charged with violating multiple ethic laws. He later admitted to the violations and was fined $20,000, censured and reprimanded by the governor and did not seek re-election.

In the case of Sheriff Jim Manfre, when the improper use of his credit cards and vehicle and his failure to disclose the use of my rental property was brought to my attention, I advised him to repay the agency and properly report the use of the property. He eventually did make re-payment to the agency, but he improperly reported the rental property value. When the ethics complaint was filed by a former employee, I honestly testified to the investigators and at his trial. The judge called Mr. Manfre’s trial testimony “simply not credible,” and Mr. Manfre was found guilty of violating Florida’s ethic laws, fined $6,200, censured and reprimanded by the governor.

In both of these cases I testified honestly and truthfully and stood up to unethical sheriffs. That is why I am endorsed by the founder of the National Institute of Ethics and I am running to be your sheriff. I took an oath to uphold the law, and I will always do that, regardless of whom it is or what the personal consequences are to me. 

Rick Staly

Palm Coast

 

Don Fleming: a leader of devotion and caring

Dear Editor:

As a retired law enforcement officer who served my community for over 30 years and as a veteran of the U.S. Army, I am endorsing Don Fleming for sheriff of Flagler County.

Since moving to Flagler County over eight years ago and during my own campaign to become sheriff in 2012, I have learned much about Don Fleming and the common desire we share: service to the community as law enforcement officers and service to our country as veterans of the Armed Forces.

Don’s devotion and caring for Flagler County is evident each and every time you speak with him. Even after his narrow defeat in the last election, he continued to share his concerns about the direction the Sheriff’s Office and the impact on the citizens of Flagler County along with the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office who have dedicated themselves to making Flagler County better for all of us.

Although crime is down locally as well as across the nation, statistics alone are no measure of an effective law enforcement agency. A sheriff has to be more than simply being elected and putting on a uniform. Flagler County deserves better than that.

We face challenging times and need a sheriff who has a proven record of leadership and training, as well as the knowledge and experience that comes with being a career law enforcement professional.

There is no other candidate for this upcoming election who has Don Fleming’s extensive background in law enforcement, education and training along with his service as a decorated veteran of the United States Armed Forces.

I am pleased as well as proud to endorse Don and urge the voters of Flagler County to join me in supporting and voting for Don Fleming in the upcoming election for Flagler County sheriff. 

John F. Pollinger

Flagler County 

 

Fleming is innovative, fiscally conservative

Dear Editor:

As a sworn law enforcement officer with 23 years of experience, I encourage voters to support Don Fleming for sheriff. 

For 20 years, I had the privilege of serving the citizens of Flagler County and have worked for Don Fleming for eight of those years. Don Fleming is by far the best candidate to rebuild the dysfunctional agency starting in 2017.

Don Fleming is innovative and forward-thinking. He knows how to restore confidence and professionalism in the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. As a fiscal conservative, Don brought the agency through tough economic times during his eight-year tenure as your sheriff. When other nearby law enforcement agencies were struggling and had to lay off deputies, Don Fleming managed to retain all employees, without laying off one person. Through community partnerships and increased communications, crime decreased five out of the last six years while he was sheriff.

When you cast your ballot, you have several options in the Republican primary. Don Fleming is the only candidate whose professionalism and servant leadership will re-build the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office into a premier agency in which the community will have faith and the men and women will again be proud as they remain committed to serving our citizens. 

His proven leadership coupled with his lifetime commitment to public service make Don Fleming the right choice.

Lynne Catoggio

Palm Coast

 

Vote for Fleming 

Dear Editor:

As a resident, husband and father, there was no greater quality of life and feeling of community than during Don Fleming’s back-to-back terms. It was a period where you felt the genuineness and protection of our law enforcement officers, you slept peaceful without a worry of intrusion to your home or theft to your vehicles. It was a time when you were thankful to call Flagler County home.

The reality is some of us are just going to pick a name just because it was a sign they saw, but for those of us who were here during Fleming’s two terms, the vote is a no-brainer. 

Mark Mistie and family

Palm Coast

 

Many of Rick Staly’s donations aren’t local 

Dear Editor:

Don Fleming whose career spans 38 years of unblemished service is “marred by an ethics complaint” for which he immediately paid a $500 fine.

And yet Rick Staly, whom “political controversy seems to follow,” receives the Observer’s endorsement. I have always followed the money in campaigns: who the donors are. I find it interesting that Staly has raised $118,430, with the majority of the $1,000+ donations coming from out of county and out of state.

Anne Martone

Palm Coast

 

Observer got it right in endorsing Staly

Dear Editor:

Flagler County is projected to experience continued increases in population, which often leads to an increase in criminal activity. That is why it is essential that an experienced leader be chosen to head the Sheriff’s Office, someone who knows the community and its people, will make the right decisions and who is committed to protecting life and property and reducing crime.

While serving as undersheriff of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the fourth-largest law enforcement agency in the state of Florida, Rick was able to keep crime down as the county’s population increased by 200,000 and its residential, commercial and tourist attraction development boomed.

I have worked with both the current and former sheriff, and I know we don’t need them. I retired as a commander from the Flagler Couny Sheriff’s Office in 2015.

I’ve also worked with Rick Staly, and I was impressed with how he cared about the agency’s employees and his commitment to our community. He is past president of the Flagler County Rotary and past president and current board trustee of Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida. Before selling his business to a national company he was a successful business owner in Palm Coast, employing 128.

Rick has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in justice administration and has graduated from the prestigious FBI National Academy and is certified in Homeland Security with secret security clearance and appointed to a national board. He’s also recognized as an expert by the American Board of Law Enforcement Experts.

We have the utmost respect for Rick and laud his impressive 40-year career as a law enforcement administrator and successful local businessman. Rick’s values, work ethic and personal integrity are why he has been endorsed by the National Institute of Ethics.

He is an honest, dedicated man who will serve with honor and distinction.

Flagler County needs Rick Staly as sheriff. He’s a man with extensive law enforcement and business experience who can lead the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and will keep our community safe. We encourage you to cast your vote during early voting or on Aug. 30 for Rick Staly for sheriff.

Bob Weber and Mary Anne Weber

 

County, City 

Civic engagement, effective government

Dear Editor:

My wife, Denise, is a candidate for County Commission in District 5. She has been a citizen of Flagler County since her family moved to Palm Coast when she was 7 years old. She was educated in Flagler schools and started the first Police Explorer Club.

Denise’s first interest was in law enforcement, and, while pursuing her bachelors and master’s degrees in public administration, she worked as a dispatcher, police officer and deputy sheriff. 

Denise is the president of the Palm Coast Kiwanis Club and a member of the Elks Club. She is an experienced grant writer and program administrator and was been actively engaged in grant funding for the arts and other nonprofit enterprises. She started the first Teen Center in Flagler County and was one of two recipients of a National PAL Volunteer of the year award.

Denise believes in civic engagement and effective government. She is fiscally conservative. Socially and environmentally friendly. And a firm believer in government for and by the people.

Richard Calderwood

Palm Coast

 

Don’t blindly follow Observer’s selections

Dear Editor:

Unfortunately, blindly following endorsements made by the Observer is not a 100% solution. They do not claim to do thorough research.

The Rev. Sims Jones, now running for Palm Coast City Council District 1, attends and participates in more government meetings then most non-elected persons. He also helps provide food, clothing, computer skills and consoling to those in need. Sims and his wife regularly foster two to four youngsters (over 25 so far). That shows Sims dedicates time and personal effort to aiding local causes. 

There is no other person in our community more qualified by education, prior management responsibilities and life experiences. There is nobody I respect more, but Observer editors travel in different circles. Please consider Rev. Sims Jones for Palm Coast Council Seat 1.

The Observer endorsed insurance man Donald O’Brien, a substantial year-round advertiser to whom the publisher donated $610. Two facts are key for voters to consider: (1) the Observer lists community contributions by O’Brien, but each item was done 14 or more years ago. (2) Except for O’Brien (my insurance agent; he’s good at that), every other candidate has happily utilized local printers and sign-makers. However, O’Brien saw a need to totally ignore local suppliers and take 100% of his $2,000 campaign materials’ work all the way up to Jacksonville. 

Our goal should be to elect candidates with the best records for aiding our community, support for local businesses and future potential, not just friendships with our newspaper’s management. His opponent has been accomplishing major works in our community for 20+ years. Denise Calderwood’s achievements include securing millions of dollars in grants for our community. She also teaches grant writing as an adjunct professor at Flagler College and Daytona State University in Palm Coast. Calderwood works toward many important projects, including finally getting a local senior center for the 68% of our residents 55 years and older. Please consider Denise Calderwood for Flagler Commission, District 5

Ed Caroe

Palm Coast

 

School Board

Don’t repeat mistakes

Dear Editor:

So you pick Dr. Myra Middleton-Valentine as your candidate for School Board District 5. Do you even read your own reporting!?! 

Not only did you not mention that there are actually four candidates running in that race, but you also must not have done your homework. 

Dr. Myra Middleton-Valentine is the conductor who started us down the ESE (exceptional student education) track, which turned into a train wreck that we are still trying to clean up even now.

To hire her again would be another impending disaster waiting to happen. I can’t be the only person that remembers this stuff.

Paul Anderson

Palm Coast

Editor’s Note: Anderson is a candidate for School Board District 5.

 

Send letters to editor@palmcoastobserver.com. Include first and last name, as well as city of residence. Editor may alter the letter for clarity and/or length.