Sheriff, County Commission, City Council and other positions are on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Most people are so busy that they don’t take time to attend political forums or read every article about local candidates. So how do you decide how to vote?
We recommend everyone read our Election Guide, published Oct. 20 and available online at palmcoastobserver.com under “E-editions.” In addition to some brief open-ended questions, we gave the candidates several statements and asked how much they agree or disagree; but they weren’t allowed to explain themselves, only to respond on a numerical scale. Hopefully the graphs will prove useful in understanding what the candidates stand for, at a glance.
Another way to help citizens feel more informed as they go to the voting booth is our tradition of endorsing candidates. As we have talked with and about the candidates, we have come to some conclusions about who we feel will help our community thrive. We hope these endorsements will add to your preparation and stimulate discussion among voters as Election Day approaches.
State Senator, District 7
State Representative, District 24
We see these races as a pair, and in both cases, the incumbents have served our community well. They are responsive, they work well with our other elected officials, and they have successfully worked to plead our case at the state level, most notably by helping to restore funding for our Adults with Disabilities program.
We recommend Travis Hutson for the Senate.
We recommend Paul Renner for the House of Representatives.
Clerk of the Circuit Court
Tom Bexley is longtime clerk Gail Wadsworth’s hand-picked successor. He has been working in her office for the past seven years and is currently her chief operations officer. He knows the challenges and the personnel at the office and would serve well, providing continuity in an important office in our community.
We recommend Tom Bexley.
Flagler County Sheriff
Larry Jones is the Democrat in this race. He worked for his whole career for the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, and everyone we’ve spoken with sees Jones as a good-hearted person. Many people are supporting Jones because of his local ties and his seemingly non-political approach. But he never advanced past the rank of sergeant in 30 years at the Sheriff’s Office, and was criticized by his superior for lacking supervisory skills.
Meanwhile, Rick Staly survived a bitter Republican primary to advance to the General Election.
Staly has the resume for the job. He is a leader. He was undersheriff of two agencies: Orange County and Flagler County sheriff’s offices. He has a master’s degree in justice administration. He has prestigious training from the FBI. He also has served the community as president of the Flagler County Rotary Club. He is the only candidate with business experience.
One of the most compelling votes of confidence for Staly came from the deputies themselves. The Police Benevolent Association met after the primary, and 102 deputies cast votes for one of the three candidates to determine whom the union would endorse. The results were as follows: Thomas Dougherty (no party affiliation) got 1 vote; Jones got 35; Staly got 67.
If the deputies support the sheriff, they will perform well, and that is what will make the biggest difference to the residents.
We recommend Rick Staly.
County Commission, District 1
Charlie Ericksen is the Republican incumbent, and he brings a steady voice to the commission.
However, Jason DeLorenzo, the Democratic challenger, presents a rare opportunity for Flagler County. He is a former Palm Coast City Council member, so his presence on the County Commission will help to bridge the political divide between the two municipalities.
DeLorenzo is bright and energetic. He’s in the middle of his career, raising a family, committed to the community, filled with ideas and vision, and he wants to serve. He says he will be a “proactive commissioner,” and his track record at the city indicates he will indeed be proactive; that’s what the community needs.
We recommend Jason DeLorenzo.
County Commission, District 3
Dave Sullivan is the Republican challenger and has an impressive business and Navy resume. He is a graduate of both the city’s and county’s citizen academies and has been a chairman of the Flagler County Republican Executive Committee.
Barbara Revels is the Democratic incumbent and is seeking her third term on the County Commission. Although her service has been marred by an ethics fine, with another allegation still pending a result, we feel she has the experience, dignity and knowledge of the community to do what’s best for the residents.
We recommend Barbara Revels.
County Commission, District 5
George Hanns has been a public servant in Flagler County for 26 years, including six terms as a county commissioner. He has been a cheerleader for Flagler County’s interests and is a hard worker. Our one criticism of Hanns is that, at times, he has been publicly antagonistic toward the Palm Coast City Council, and that animosity is something we are hoping to overcome as a community.
Meanwhile, Donald O’Brien is a fresh face, running as a Republican to replace Hanns. He has an MBA and is an insurance business owner. He has served the community in many boards, including the Florida Hospital Flagler Foundation, the Education Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce. He has friends on the Observer staff, and we have always known him to be a thoughtful, honest, intelligent person with a strong moral compass. Hanns has served well for six terms, but it’s time for change.
We recommend Donald O’Brien.
School Board, District 5
Two years ago, Maria Barbosa was found to have plagiarized her responses to a FlaglerLive interview, which raises some concern for us today, considering she is running for School Board. Still, she is a kind person with great love for her community, and we wish her well.
Myra Middleton-Valentine has the edge in this race in large part because her extensive experience is directly related to the position she is seeking: She has a doctorate in education and has served in the field for 40 years, including in Flagler Schools.
We recommend Myra Middleton-Valentine.
Palm Coast City Council, District 3
Pam Richardson has experience serving on the Palm Coast Code Enforcement Board and other local organizations and would do well on the City Council.
But Nick Klufas has potential to be a creative force for the city. In the Election Guide, he proposed two ideas in response to the question, “If elected, how would you changes things in a way residents might notice?” First, he said he wants to create an open house registry for real estate agents, similar to the way garage sales are handled. Second, he said he wants to see micro cell towers to boost cell coverage in the city.
Whether or not either of those ideas comes to fruition, they represent the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that the council needs. Klufas is the face of Palm Coast’s future, and his service would be welcome.
We recommend Nick Klufas.