Conkey Counts on Experience; Retired Aviator Wants to Draw on Military Lessons for Office
Cearnal, Deborah, The Florida Times Union
Byline: DEBORAH CEARNAL
A career in the military has given Doug Conkey the skills necessary to be a good commissioner, the candidate says.
"I was trained to get all the sides to render a good decision," he said during an interview. "You gather the facts and views and in the end it proves best for the organization," he said.
As a Navy pilot, he was used to going through a checklist before, during and after flights. He intends to use that checklist-type approach to commission business, doing his homework, lining up the pros and cons of an issue, listening to the public and then making a decision.
"I want to make the process more visible, show the people the facts, the timeline and get the best for the people," the lifelong Republican said.
The dumping scandal, he said, "showed we need to improve the process. There was a breakdown of rules, a breakdown of the link in the chain. It seemed to be systemic of the operation."
Even before Patrick McGovern announced that he would not seek re-election to his District 2 commission seat, Conkey had indicated he would run for the office McGovern had held for 14 years.
Having retired from the Navy only six months before his early November 2005 announcement, Conkey was "looking for a second career."
"I decided I want to do something with a high level of job satisfaction," he said. Having grown up with politically active parents, Conkey chose public work.
"It was something I always wanted to do. As a youth, I saw that at the local level you have the most impact. I wanted the opportunity to serve the people."
His quest just happened to be "the right place, the right time," he said.
He laughs when he says he is a real estate salesman. "I have been in real estate a year," he said, adding that he has fashioned only a few contracts.
"I am by no means shaping Clay County," he smiled.
And shaping the county is one of his platform issues.
"Growth is not unique to Clay County. Growth management is a skill all its own that requires training," he said. "We need to harness that energy in a controlled environment" and evaluate projects in a logical, timeline manner. His campaign literature says he wants the county to "develop a master plan to keep county government proactive."
Included in that would be creating a "solid-well-funded transportation plan addressing future growth," the pamphlet says. Encouraging economic development "to balance tax-base growth" is another goal.
Conkey says he believes he can bring leadership, vision and integrity to the commission.
"Even if you don't agree, you can act professionally and be courteous," he said. "There is nothing worse than saying one thing and doing another. It [serving] will not always be easy."