PALM COAST, Fla. (April 19, 2023) – One may ask, how communities plan for the future if the decision making is not in their own hands?
What seemed like a lesson in Florida history and government quickly turned into a relatable discussion as Virginia Delegal, Executive Director for the Florida Association of Counties spoke to more than 100 attendees of the Flagler Tiger Bay Club April luncheon, Wednesday at the Hammock Dunes Club in Palm Coast.
Defining vague terms like ‘preemption’ and ‘home rule’ for those not intricately involved in the crafting of legislation or policy, it was a frank discussion regarding who actually makes the laws and why maintaining local control over lawmaking and policy is critical to the character of a community.
Delegal was candid about the pitfalls of hasty, aggressive, blanket preemptions that are often passed as legislation in the last 48 hours of a governing body’s session.
“The reason this Tiger Bay luncheon in particular was important, our speaker (Ginger) Delegal was talking about local control. Right now, the biggest issue we have with the state legislature is preemption of our ability to govern people locally. Usually local control is better than state or federal control because we’re closer to the people,” said Flagler County Commissioner David Sullivan, who represents the Grand Haven neighborhoods and the southern beachside communities.
Elected officials, county and municipal staff, Flagler Tiger Bay Club members, guests and students from both the Flagler County school district and Bethune-Cookman University’s Justice and Political Studies program were in attendance. Delegal was pleased to see the participation from tomorrow’s young leaders and took the time to speak with attendees individually before and after the program.
“I’m hoping that they take away they need to be involved in their community and that Florida is stronger when we all stand up for our neighbors and our neighborhoods,” said Delegal.
Delegal’s message resonated with municipal leaders as well as the county officials she often interfaces with across the state.
“What I learned today was that the spirit and the essence of our democracy is really based on our local ability to make our decisions for our community,” said Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin.
“We need to try and keep control of our neighborhoods, especially the character of our neighborhoods,” added Flagler Beach City Commissioner Rick Belhumeur.
Introduced by Flagler County Commission Chairman Greg Hansen, Delegal was well-regarded among attendees.
“Ginger Delegal represents all that is good about the Florida Association of Counties (FAC). As Executive Director of FAC she guides the action of one of the most influential organizations in Florida,” said Hansen.
“FAC educates, trains, and organizes county commissioners from all of Florida’s 67 counties. Today she provided a tutorial on the issue of ‘home rule’. Her presentation was enthusiastically received by the members and guests of Flagler County’s Tiger Bay Club, many of whom approached me afterward with their rave reviews of Mrs. Delegal’s presentation.”
“Today’s meeting was very special as we got to talk about home rule and the actual work that our local elected officials do,” said Flagler County Commissioner Andy Dance.
“There was a quote that Ginger Delegal put on the screen and I’ll just read it. It said, ‘the strength of free peoples resides in the local community’, and that’s an edict I believe in wholeheartedly and try to make sure in my daily activities that we live up that.”