The mayor, who is term limited, will officially step down Nov. 15 when the newly elected City Council is sworn in. He was first elected mayor in 2007.
Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts has been part of the city’s government almost since its incorporation — serving first on its code enforcement board, then as a city councilman before being elected mayor in 2007. At a celebration of Netts’ service Nov. 3, Palm Coast’s first mayor, James Canfield, called Netts “a great mayor for the city of Palm Coast and its people.”
“One of the things he operates with is a high degree of civility,” Canfield said. “Every speaker that comes to these meetings … is treated with courtesy, and with dignity.”
As are residents who’ve interacted with Netts outside of the formality of City Hall, Palm Coast resident Deleana Williams related from the podium at the event, which was attended by more than 100 people.
Williams said she’d asked Netts this past September if he would write a letter of congratulations for her friend, Regina Wilson, in honor of Wilson’s 90th birthday. She knew the mayor was busy. But he answered the same day.
“Now, I know that my request was not at the top of his to-do list; I’m well aware of that, Mr. Mayor. But you sure treated it as if it were,” Williams said. Netts sent the letter in time for Wilson’s birthday party. “I wish you could have seen the look on my friend Regina Wilson’s face. … You treated that small request as if it were on top of your to-do list. You made my friend’s day, and you made my day,” Williams said. “By your kindness, you have shown that you are more than ‘Mr. Mayor.’ You’re a man with a heart of gold.”
Wilson took the podium after Williams to say how much she appreciated the letter.
Netts led his last full City Council meeting Nov. 1. He’ll head a council workshop Nov. 8, and then initiate the formal Nov. 15 meeting before turning his seat over to mayor-elect Milissa Holland. Netts, having served two terms, is stepping down due to term limits.
Holland is a former Flagler County commissioner, and her father, Jim Holland, was a member of Palm Coast’s first City Council.
After Jim Holland died in 2002, Milissa Holland said, Netts played a fatherly role in her life.
“I have the privilege of getting to know him as a family member,” she said. “He took on a very big role for me when I lost my father, and I can’t thank him enough. So this upcoming few years are not only big shoes to fill, but it’s also very personal to me. … I hope to do you proud."
Netts credited city staff and his colleagues and predecessors on the city council with helping make the city what it is today.
“Our first mayor, Mayor Jim Canfield, and his first City Council took the time, took the effort, to develop a vision for what Palm Coast should be,” he said. “That was a starting point. And in the six years on City Council, nine years as your mayor, I’ve tried to keep moving in that direction,” he said.
He said he’d be taking his place in the front row of the audience at council meetings after Holland takes his place. And, he said, to chuckles from the audience, “By golly, if she deviates from the path — I’m going to stand up and have something to say about it.”
After the ceremony, Netts enumerated some of the challenges of his time in office — working within a budget during the recession; resisting the “urge to do everything that everybody wanted,” and determining how to pay for stormwater management — and some of his successes, like getting through the recession without cutting services, and helping develop a 5-10-20- year capital plan, with a 5-10-20- year budget to accompany it.
But one of his — and the city’s — greatest accomplishments, he said, was staying true to the vision that made the city so appealing to the many people who've chosen to make it home.
“It still has that same flavor, that same essence,” he said. Netts has often lauded Palm Coast for being “clean, green and marine.”
“It still is clean. It still is green,” he said. “We have lived up to the promises that we’ve made each other.”