PALM COAST, Fla. - Mayor David Alfin and Vice Mayor Ed Danko got into a heated exchange in this week’s Palm Coast City Council workshop during a discussion about electric vehicle infrastructure. Danko was expressing his disapproval of a presentation by city staff, when he turned his ire toward the presenter herself.
The item being explained was an outline of cost/benefit and return on investment for potential electric vehicle charging stations in Palm Coast. Danko, who has over time kept such concepts at arm's length, resisted the idea of city-sanctioned stations. He said he was worried about the city competing with the private sector. At this point, he called out the presenter.
"I'm not impressed with you," Danko said to Maeven Rogers, Palm Coast's Chief Sustainability & Resiliency Officer. "The facts you're presenting...quite frankly they're just based on AOC, Green New Deal, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg..." The latter portion of Danko's statement likened investments in eco-friendly energy such as electric vehicles to various Democratic politicians and policy initiatives at the national level.
"Vice Mayor, I think you've made your point," countered Alfin. The two spoke over each other for a few lines, each trying to grab control of the discussion. Alfin tried to direct Danko's frustration to an inquiry with City Manager Denise Bevan. He wasn't having it.
"I will express myself any way I want, Mr. Mayor," Danko refuted. "I'm sorry, you will not," shot back Alfin. "You do not control me," erupted Danko. "You're elected, I'm elected. Alright? We're individuals." Again, Alfin tried to direct Danko to Bevan. Again, it didn't work.
Danko then returned to questioning Rogers' credentials. "I don't even know why this person has a job," he said, one of the more personal jabs thrown on the City Council in recent memory. Even rarer is to see it from a Council member to a hired staff member. Alfin was incensed, raising his voice. "I am not going to allow your continued attack on staff," he said. "Speak to the City Manager who gave the assignment."
Moments later Councilman Nick Klufas tried to interject, saying "we can't let this guy-" before being cut off. Alfin and Danko sparred for a few more lines before Danko ceased and Alfin passed the conversation off to Councilwoman Theresa Carli Pontieri.
The exchange was the first time in months that Danko has raised his voice at a colleague, an occurrence which happened multiple times in his first couple years on the dais. His tensions with Alfin were highest during the 2021 special mayoral election, in which Danko backed opposing candidate Alan Lowe. The two enjoyed a much more respectful, professional working relationship for some time before the events of Tuesday night, and may well return to that status in future meetings.
Both Alfin and Danko's terms in office expire in 2024; Alfin has indicated he'll seek another term in office while Danko has announced he's departing to seek a seat on the Board of County Commissioners. Alfin could potentially serve two more terms as mayor, as his first term was only a partial one and was not held against him in the city's term limit policy. Danko could serve one additional term on the City Council, but does not presently intend to do so.
After the meeting, Danko called the electric vehicle proposal, "left-wing liberal woke agenda garbage" in a Facebook comment.
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