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Florida Votes 2016: Putnam County Commission District 3

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This November, Putnam County’s registered voters will cast their ballots not only for the next POTUS, but also for their District 3 County Commissioner.

Candidates up for this seat include incumbent Karl Flagg (D), Tommy Stilwell (R) and Douglas Hays (NPA).

Karl Flagg.
Karl Flagg.

Flagg has served as Putnam’s District 3 county commissioner for nearly four years, and before that was the mayor of the city of Palatka for 11 years.

“It is an honor for me to be elected by the citizens of our community,” he said.

Born and raised in Putnam County, Flagg began his public service experience as early as high school, where said he was class president. He is also a senior pastor at a local Baptist church, as well as a certified funeral director, embalmer and CEO of the Karl N. Flagg Serenity Memorial Chapel.

Flagg feels that economic development is the most pressing issue for Putnam County, calling it “the most economically-challenged” county in Northeast Florida.

“It puts us in a position of having to have strong faith and strong leaders with the vision to move us forward so that we can enhance what we would call the infrastructure to attract businesses.”

To this end, Flagg said he is working with the Department of Transportation to improve the highway system in Putnam County. He is also working to increase internet connectivity and cell service in the more rural parts of his county.

He plans to promote “both job creation and job preservation” by attracting small businesses, technical commerce and industries with prototypes for rural communities.

Flagg feels that agriculture is, and will always be, a foundational industry of Putnam County. He encourages a “progressive and diverse” approach to agriculture in order to keep Putnam County alive.

Tommy Stillwell.
Tommy Stillwell.

As for transparency in public records, Flagg feels having information available to the public is “non-negotiable,” and that public records should be easily accessible to everyone. Additionally, that Florida’s open government law creates a necessary check-and-balance on policymakers.

Putnam County’s biggest environmental concern, Flagg said, is the presence of septic tanks, to which he hopes to implement a more widespread wastewater treatment system.

Flagg says the endorsement he’s most proud of in his campaign is the endorsement of the citizens of Putnam County. He’s also grateful for The Northeast Florida Association of Realtors and The Putnam County Fire-Rescue Professionals.

“A person should vote for me because my life, my family, my faith, my business and my experience are all grounded in our county,” Flagg said. “My most basic instinct and desire is for the betterment, health and safety of our county.”

Republican candidate Tommy Stilwell said he was unavailable for an interview due to his responsibilities as the owner of two local businesses.

Douglas Hays.
Douglas Hays.

No-party affiliation write-in candidate Douglas Hays used his interview time discussing topics such as his military experience, his discontent with the rise of his property taxes, and his fascination with the idea of blood drives for both humans and canines.

Under the slogan of “No More Hocus-Pocus,” Hays said one of his main goals as county commissioner would be to terminate the services of County Administrator Rick Leary.

Describing himself as “long-winded,” Hays was unable to answer all of our questions in short form.

“Everybody wants change,” Hays said. “[My opponents] say they’re for the little guy, but they’re not. I’m the little guy.”

This story is part of our guide, Florida Votes 2016, leading up to the Nov. 8 election. Check your voter registration status here.

About Jordanne Laurito

Jordanne is a reporter for WUFT News. She can be reached at news@wuft.org or 352-392-6397.

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