Flagler County’s Board of County Commissioners made it official on Monday, October 4, 2021 selecting Interim County Administrator Heidi Petito to take the helm as Flagler County moves into the next phase of history. Sharing her vision and goals, we wish her the best in her new role.

Were you surprised by the action today to make you the permanent administrator?

Somewhat surprised, but anticipated a discussion because my contract was originally for three months (July – September).  Being that this was the first meeting following my contract expiration, I anticipated a discussion with the board because a determination would need to be made on a path moving forward (i.e. whether they retained me, went out for a search, etc.). I have worked for Flagler County since August of 2005, and have always loved my work. I am extremely honored that the Board of County Commissioners has placed their trust in me to guide the work of our departments to align with their vision for Flagler County. I have been, and will continue to, meet with the commissioners regularly to keep them abreast of the progress being made on the variety of projects working simultaneously.

What are some of the priorities you are hoping to tackle in the first year or so? 

Having been a member of this community and an employee of Flagler County for the past sixteen years, my transition is probably easier than most.  Although we are sitting in a really good spot, I believe there is always a better way to become more effective and efficient.  Here are my three priorities that I would like to improve upon.

The first initiative is Employee Recognition and Engagement.  Employees are the backbone of any organization, and by recognizing them, they realize that we see value in them and their contribution to the success of our organization.  I think this is especially important as we continue to grow from a small county into a mid-size county and with the recent change in leadership of our organization.

The second is Customer Service and Engagement.  Customer service to both internal and external customers is vitally important to what we do.  Without good internal customer service (employees working together), we cannot fulfill our obligation to the residents we serve.  By creating, an environment that is customer centric, we create the best experience for our residents, by keeping them in mind with every decision and action we take.

The third is Strategic Planning and Visioning.  As we transition from a small county to a mid-size county, it is important to recognize that our future cannot be determined alone.  This process starts with our Board in determining their vision for the future, along with identifying the goals and objectives for our organization.  This simply is not an exercise to check off a box.  This is a process that we need to work on with all of our stakeholders, (elected officials, residents, employees, etc.), to determine a vision for our future and establish a path to achieve our goals.

And, of course, there are a number extremely important initiatives and projects that will be challenging and exhilarating to see through fruition. The top of that list is the completion of the Sheriff’s Operations Center, which is currently under construction. Certainly, our top legislative priority is funding for a Bunnell branch and administrative headquarters for the Flagler County Public Library system. We are very close to being ready to open the Flagler Access Center to enhance mental health services for our residents. We are working on dunes restoration with the Army Corps of Engineers. In short, there is a long list of things we are tackling as a County that I will be proud to have a hand in helping to accomplish.

How do you think your past service has prepared you for this role? 

Having just completed 31 years of working in local government, my years of experience has prepared me well for this position.  I started early on in a somewhat entry-level position, and have always embraced the ideas that we should never stop learning and can always do better.  Each of these experiences have helped me prepare for my next opportunity. I have had the privilege of working with a diverse group of people in unique circumstances. This adds depth and breadth to those experiences. Throughout my career, I have always risen to the challenge and have continued to advance wherever I have worked.  Prior to working in Administration, for the past 14 years, I oversaw the largest department within Flagler County, General Services, with over 110 employees.  I am a servant leader at heart, whose experience consists of strong leadership, building relationships and effective communication.

Becoming the first woman to serve as administrator in Flagler County, do you feel you’ll bring anything to the table that may have been overlooked in the past or a new perspective? 

I have always worked in a predominately male setting, and have never really considered the gender differences within the workplace.  I think with anybody new coming into an organization, there is always a new perspective and some fresh ideas.  Having worked for Flagler County for the past 16 years, it might not be new perspectives, but rather a slightly different nuance to the approach we take.  The decision to maintain continuity within our organization is invaluable, as it builds confidence in our employees and residents, preserves the relationships we have with our community partners and stakeholders, and cultivates a resilient organizational culture.

What would you like the residents of Flagler County to know about your willingness and dedication to the community and our goals? 

I have always believed in the importance and benefit of giving back to your community, which is why I have always chosen to live in the community in which I work, so that I can be involved and participate in local activities and events.  I absolutely love our community and am proud to call Flagler County home.