We are rapidly approaching the mid-term elections and here at Flagler News Weekly, we know there are many new residents in the area who may be interested in getting involved in the local political scene or learning more about what some of the established organizations stand for. Welcome to The Friday Round Up: Political Parley, where we’ll ask a question of party leaders, candidates or the public, and share the responses with you as our Friday headline.

This week we hear from Greg Davis, President of the Flagler Tiger Bay Club, Robert Updegrave, Chairman of the Flagler County Republican Executive Committee, and Jan Sullivan, Chairwoman of the Flagler County Democratic Executive Committee.

Question: What do you see as the biggest issue facing our nation right now, and what do you think we as voters can do about it? 

Flagler County REC Chairman Robert Updegrave

Thanks for inviting me to comment.  My answer with all respect:

While the U.S. has plenty of major solvable issues to go around, many have been moldering forever.  I am a Conservative and Chairman of the Flagler County Republican Executive Committee, and my view is through that sensible political lens.  We Republicans consistently endeavor to meet our Democratic counterparts on solving things, but the more accommodating we are, the farther the Dems move the goalposts making for purposeful intractable hard stops.  Our friends on the other side overreach every time real opportunity presents itself, killing hopes for any reasonable solutions.  It is clear that while Republicans are straining to get things right the other side demonstrates its preference for divisive nation-splitting issues.  It is unfortunate that we are saddled with a weak fragmented, largely inept White House with an agenda the antithesis of reality as it continues to taint every aspect of  American life and security through its economic failings, its awful social policies coupled to an overall disregard for our citizens – predominant mode is to blame Republicans in order to gain cheap negative scores in hopes of fooling Voters.  Voters will be able to get a big part of it fixed this year and the balance in ‘24.


Flagler County DEC Chairwoman Jan Sullivan

I think it’s more appropriate that you ask questions about the County, as we are leaders of County organizations.



Flagler County Tiger Bay Club President Greg Davis

I do not believe our nation is facing one singular big issue but multiple big issues.  Several of the big issues intersect and coalesce.  We have a twenty-four-hour news cycle that many times is factual yet often builds and speculates on incomplete information.  The news cycle tends to amplify or completely dismiss news stories.  It blends commentary and opinion with news driving a point of view of the stories reported towards their constituency and advertisers.  The challenge for citizens is to determine what is fact and make their own informed decision on what policy they agree and should support through their vote.

We have a litany of issues and challenges to ferret through this election cycle.  There is no issue that is insurmountable.  Many are hold overs from past election cycles.  Many we have been through before.  To me, today’s driving issues include:

  • The overall economy – how long can growth and expansion last?

  • Inflation

  • Supply chain issues and dependencies on other nations

  • COVID’s continued impacts on healthcare, healthcare worker shortages. healthcare cost, and supply chain issues and interruptions

  • Approaching full employment with millions of unfilled jobs and labor cost increases resulting in increased automation and higher skilled employees

  • Immigration policy challenges and when it may be in our best interests to bring in more immigrants legally through H1B and other H1 and guest worker programs to fill persistent job vacancies including critical industries

  • January 6th

  • Abortion

  • Russian aggression and Ukraine

  • Etc.

The common solution with all these issues is citizens educating themselves on the issues, becoming an informed voter, and finally showing up to the polls and voting.  In the CATO Institute publication “When Ignorance Isn’t Bliss: How Political Ignorance Threatens Democracy” September 22, 2004, Policy Analysis 525 states: “Democracy demands an informed electorate. Voters who lack adequate knowledge about politics will find it difficult to control public policy. Inadequate voter knowledge prevents government from reflecting the will of the people in any meaningful way. Such ignorance also raises doubts about democracy as a means of serving the interests of a majority. Voters who lack sufficient knowledge may be manipulated by elites. They may also demand policies that contravene their own interests.”

I believe it was Harvard University that published a study that concluded the most uninformed voters were those who received their news from primarily a single source be it CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal. etc.  The more informed voters received their news from multiple sources, analyzed what was presented and came to their own conclusions.

At Flagler Tiger Bay Club, one of our founding principles as a non-partisan political club is that if you present the voters with all sides of the issues in a civil environment, they are intelligent enough and will draw their own informed opinion.  They do not need to be told what to think or be told what they just heard.

The answer to what voters can do about the issues is the same across all the topics.  The challenge for voters is achieving a balanced understanding of what the issues really are.  For me, getting a balanced understanding on current issues involves casting a wide net with a diversity of points of view, facts, and opinions.  Reading, listening, and discussing those diverse views, facts, and opinions in an atmosphere of civility and without judgement is necessary to develop well founded viewpoints.  It requires listening to people from their points of view.  It is when I am secure in my foundational beliefs that I can listen and discuss those with others.

The sky is not falling.  We have been here before.  I believe we are the only nation ever founded on an idea.  As in our Constitution we are “Building a more perfect Union.”


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