Palm Coast, FL – Going 10 rounds usually leaves opponents bloody and bruised, but after going the distance, four of the six candidates for Palm Coast Mayor left the stage none the worse for the wear after the forum on Wednesday evening, hosted by the nonpartisan Flagler Tiger Bay Club.
Filling the Sunshine Room of the Palm Coast Community Center to near capacity, it was standing room only as voters watched and listened attentively to candidates David Alfin, Carol Bacha, Doug Courtney and Cornelia Manfre share their visions during the hour and a half question and answer session.
While the response periods were short, it challenged the candidates to think quickly on their feet, answering succinctly, and leaving little time for the traditional grandstanding or diversions that can result in voters feeling confused by unanswered questions.
Most of the evening’s candidates have run for office before, and as they’ve gained experience and confidence under the microscope of the public eye, they’ve learned the skills needed become more forthright with their answers and accessible as people, each sharing insight about themselves and experience as relevant to the questions presented by the five panelists from the community.
Topics, submitted from various sources including a robust community response and kept confidential until the forum, ranged from qualifications, oversight and budget management, the balancing of growth, senior and youth population needs, the potential formation of a parks and recreation board and an ethics board, along with hot button issues like code enforcement review and mental health, were all up for discussion.
It was panelist Alex Soares, representing the young professionals in Palm Coast as a Flagler Tiger Bay Club Young Executive member, and the phrasing of a question on mental health to candidate Carol Bacha, that pulled heartstrings for many watching.
It was a moment that revealed the true search of Palm Coast voters for a candidate to connect with.
“I think the forum was well done and I was impressed with some of their answers,” said panelist Pastor Charles Silano, of Grace Tabernacle Ministries.
“The audience was listening intently as far as I could tell. The people should be encouraged because they saw for themselves who has leadership qualifications for the office of mayor,” he said.
“As to the mental health issue, I think all candidates were put on notice that as daunting that issue is, it needs to be looked at more intentionally and soon.”
Moderated by Flagler Tiger Bay Club board member Teldra Jones, the forum flowed at a timely tempo, rotating among the five panelists that included businessman Scott Campion, faith-based leaders Pastor Charles Silano and Pastor Andrew Hale, Young Executive member Alex Soares, and Young Tiger member Lovie Haley.
In addition to the in person forum, residents were able to tune in to the livestreamed broadcast on WNZF NewsRadio 94.9 FM, or watch the professionally produced event live from the Flagler Tiger Bay Club’s website and social media, and on Flagler News Weekly’s social media.
“Feedback we have been receiving from the Mayoral Candidate forum has been excellent. Preliminary numbers on attendees and listeners and viewers is approaching 2500. There were close to 180 people in attendance. The panelists and their questions were excellent,” said Flagler Tiger Bay Club president Greg Davis.
“I am personally very pleased with the Forum and the team that put it together. It met and exceeded expectations.”
For those who missed the forum live, viewing is available here.