The moment of truth came when Greg Davis and Don Madden were planning the second meeting of the Flagler Tiger Bay Club.
Both Davis and Madden had been members of Tiger Bay clubs in other cities in the past, and they decided to start one in Flagler County last year. The whole point of the club is to take a civil, nonpartisan approach to learning about political topics — an antidote to the poison of polarization in the country. They wanted to bring in prominent speakers from around the country to address the club, and the second meeting was to be a debate in October 2018 between the two candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, District 6: Republican Michael Waltz and Democrat Nancy Soderberg.
But the Republican couldn’t make it. Would Davis and Madden — both Republicans themselves — be willing to let Soderberg have the stage to herself?
“She got the stage,” said Madden, the Flagler club’s vice president. “At that point, the Democrats on our board understood that we were wearing our Tiger Bay hats, not our Republican hats. … The support we’re getting from across the aisle is wonderful.”
Other speakers have included Jason Altmire, a three-term Congressman, who wrote the book “Dead Center: How Political Polarization Divided America and What We Can Do About It.”
The club is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a wine tasting 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, at the Palm Coast Community Center. Prospective members and members are welcome to attend for $20. Reservation required at www.flaglertigerbayclub.com.
At the event, the slate of speakers for the next several months will be revealed. Davis, the club’s president, said people will be surprised at the high caliber of speakers, which include recognized national experts, he said.
So far, the club has thrived, with about 87% of the nearly 100 members attending meetings. Membership is $100, plus $350 annually, which includes 10 monthly, one-hour lunch meetings with speakers.
“We don’t endorse candidates; we don’t advocate for issues,” Davis said. “If we provide information, people can make up their own minds.”