With no Democrat entered in either race, voters will choose between two Republicans and two unaffiliated candidates to fill two seats on the Flagler County Commission.

With no Democrat entered in either race, Flagler County voters will choose between two Republicans and two unaffiliated candidates to fill two seats on the Flagler County Commission.

In District 2, incumbent Commission Chairman Greg Hansen, a Republican, will face Dennis McDonald, no party affiliate, while in District 4, Joe Mullins, who defeated incumbent Commissioner Nate McLaughlin in the Aug. 28 Republican primary, will take on Jane Gentile-Youd, also running as no party affiliate.

DISTRICT 4

Gentile-Youd and Mullins both see similarities between Flagler County and communities they once called home.

Mullins said Flagler reminds him of his hometown near Augusta, Georgia, and he said it's primed for the same type of growth he witnessed in Augusta over the years.

Mullins wants to develop Flagler west of Interstate 95 — particularly along the U.S. 1 corridor — and bring in high-wage technology, manufacturing and clean industry jobs while building housing for the workforce in Espanola.

“I want to create a 2025 vision where we really define who we want to be,” he said. “It will be Flagler County’s choice of what businesses we want. All we have to do is lay out the infrastructure and then market that east coast. And we’ll get to choose who new want to come in and who we don’t want to come in.”

Gentile-Youd said she likes the way Flagler County is now. She moved here in 2002 to enjoy a quiet life after spending 26 years in the Miami-Dade area. She said zoning changes gradually stripped away the laid-back vibe of the South Florida community where she once lived and transformed it into a congested gridlock.

“I don’t want to see Flagler County repeat what happened in Miami,” she said.

Gentile-Youd wants more tech schools to come to Flagler, but she’s leery of Mullins’ big plans.

“He just comes here from out of town and wants to take over? Nobody asked him,” she said. “I think we need to improve on what we have, but he wants to take us in a whole different direction.”

Earlier this year, Gentile-Youd lobbied against a zoning change that would've allowed medical marijuana dispensaries near the subdivision where she lives, arguing no businesses should be built within 50 feet of homes.

“If I am elected, that’s one of the first things I want to do is revisit all the land-use codes and bring them up to the 21st century,” Gentile-Youd said.

Mullins is a former agent who said he once represented professional athletes and entertainers. He is still dogged by allegations of fraud, drug addiction, and racy text messages that surfaced in Augusta media reports during his run for a state House seat in Georgia in 2015.

"I don’t come to this community perfect, and I didn’t come to this community unlived,” Mullins said. “I’m a former sports and entertainment agent that lives in recovery. So I’ve got things in my past that I had to grow up from.”

DISTRICT 2

Hansen’s opponent in the District 2 race came within about 200 votes of unseating late commissioner Frank Meeker in the 2014 Republican primary.

This will be Dennis McDonald's third try for public office in Flagler and this time he is focusing on public safety. He said his key concern is finding fixes for the Sheriff's Office Operations Center, which has been unoccupied since it was evacuated four months ago. McDonald envisions removing the Emergency Management department from the county’s purview and transitioning it under the Sheriff’s Office umbrella to eliminate redundancy. That, he says, could allow the displaced deputies to move their headquarters into the Emergency Operations Center.

McDonald, a former contractor for a multifamily developer and commercial builder, has been a vocal critic of county leaders since commissioners in 2013 voted to buy the former Memorial Hospital-Flagler site off State Road 100 for $1.23 million to use as the sheriff's headquarters.

“I say it all the time: this county has operated for the benefit of a few at the expense of many,” he said, calling the hospital purchase a prime example of wasteful spending and insider play. “Quite honestly, all I want is a seat at the table to be able to stop these things from happening.”

Hansen said county officials are working together to find a solution to the operations center dilemma and he thinks the situation will be resolved within six months.

Like Mullins, Hansen said he wants to see development in Flagler, but he is advocating for “smart growth” by recruiting small- and mid-sized businesses that the county has a workforce to sustain.

“We don’t want any big industry in Flagler County,” Hansen said during a recent candidates forum. “We don’t want to ruin Flagler County … We bring big industry in here and we’re ruined.”

McDonald, Gentile-Youd and Mullins have all criticized top county officials at some point. McDonald and Gentile-Youd have stumped on a platform of clearing house from the top down by eliminating some of the biggest salaries on the county's payroll.

Hansen, the lone incumbent in the field, defends the current administration against those attacks, pointing to the nearly 40 services that the county provides.

“We run everything in the county and none of those three have a grasp of that,” he said. “They talk about lowering the budget and we don’t need an assistant county manager. They don’t see what goes on day to day and how well this county is run, and it’s just disturbing to me.”