Bunnell, FL – There weren’t any fireworks and after more than two weeks of non-stop upheaval, the audience seemed relieved as candidates vying for the opportunity to be the next mayor of Palm Coast addressed the questions presented with civility.

It’s been a long few weeks since qualifying officially ended and the real race began. Since then, candidates have participated in a seemingly high number of forums during the condensed election cycle, including a Leads Into the Future business networking organization forum last Tuesday.

Leads Into the Future Forum. July 13, 2021.

Serving as hosts of the Thursday evening event, members of the African American Cultural Society, the MLK Committee, the NAACP #5147, The Dreamkeepers, and SURJ were on hand at the George Washington Carver Center in Bunnell to hear the candidates address their questions and hopefully reach a decision before the rapidly approaching election day, on July 27th.

Moderator Shelley Ragsdale, president of the NAACP Chapter #5147 found himself reconsidering his initial candidate selection after the responses delivered throughout the evening.

“I was extremely pleased with the behavior of the audience and with the candidates. I think they were extremely informative, very candid, and we had a very well-orchestrated event,” said Ragsdale.

While the NAACP does not endorse candidates, Ragsdale will share his personal selection when asked. Flagler News Weekly opted not to put him on the spot.

“This forum was basically for people that live in Palm Coast, and we’ve spread the word from organization to organization that Black people need to come out and vote. We need to understand who to vote for, and it’s so important. We felt it was important to give them a forum for people to hear what was going on,” he said.

“I learned a lot this evening. I thought I knew who I was going to vote for and now I have to go back to the drawing table.”

With such a rapid turnaround time for the special election, organizations across Flagler County have been working as diligently as the candidates to both get the word out about the July 27th Palm Coast Mayoral election and educate voters on the candidates themselves according to Flagler NAACP 2nd Vice President Blanche Valentine.

“The NAACP is adamant that we have large community turnout for voting,” said Valentine. “It’s not to promote any one candidate, but to remind citizens that it’s your duty to get out and vote. You can’t complain if you don’t take part in the process.”

Members of the community from all ethnicities, ages and socioeconomic walks of life turned out to listen including Elizabeth Gustafson, who saw the bringing together of multiple organizations to host the event as one more opportunity to engage a wide range of voters.

“Our groups have more diversity so we wanted to be able to have those people come out and have their questions heard and answered,” she said.

The Palm Coast Mayoral special election is set for July 27, 2021.

Featured Photo: The African American Cultural Society, MLK Committee, the DreamKeepers, the NAACP #5147 and SURJ hosted candidates David Alfin, Kathy Austrino, Doug Courtney, Cornelia Manfre and Alan Lowe for the Palm Coast Mayoral Forum at the GW Carver Center in Bunnell, moderated by NAACP President Shelley Ragsdale (center).

Not present: Candidate Carol Bacha.

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