Eddie Branquinho was back on the Palm Coast City Council dais the morning of July 19, saying that he'd been pulling a "stunt" for publicity when he walked out in the middle of a council workshop on July 12.
"You only have one chance of doing something like this, pulling a stunt like this and throwing a little hand grenade."
— EDDIE BRANQUINHO
"It was never my intention to leave," he said in an interview July 19. "The only thing I did, in the middle of a workshop, I walked away in protest of what was going on. And if you think that didn't work — your own newspaper put me first page, FlaglerLive put me right first page, the radio station, front and center ... and even the candidate forum, that came up. If you don't think that made my point, then I don't know what would, because that's the whole idea behind it — bring the attention to my cause."
Branquinho had walked off the dais the previous week in the midst of a discussion about a proposed survey that would question citizens about their opinions on multifamily housing.
But, speaking July 19, he said he'd considered staging such a walkout before — when the council had voted, over his objections, to increase its own salary.
"I was going to revolt a little bit against that, but you only have one chance of doing something like this, pulling a stunt like this and throwing a little hand grenade," he said. "So I decided to do it with the so-called 'affordable,' non-affordable housing."
Branquinho consistently votes against apartment complexes, saying he believes people don't want them in Palm Coast and that he believes more apartment would lead to more crime.
He was at odds with his colleagues on the council July 12 as to whether his proposed questions on multifamily housing should make up their own stand-alone survey or be rolled into a larger survey on the city's Comprehensive Plan.
Branquinho wanted a standalone survey for the multifamily housing questions. Other council members thought they should be included in the broader survey.
The mayor had been saying that there seemed to be a council consensus in favor of including the questions in the broader survey when Branquinho interjected, "I don't belong here. I'll rethink my future today. Because I don't belong here. I don't want to do this to the people of Palm Coast. I don't belong here, and I'm going to think with my family as to what I want to do."
Then he'd turned to Mayor David Alfin and said, "Let me think about my future, sir, and I'll have an answer for you by the end of next week."
He added, "I'm here on the side of [the] people. And if you think anything different than what I'm thinking, then you're not on the side of the people, you're on the side of something else."
Branquinho is not running for reelection, but said on July 19 that he'd regretted not running for mayor after former Mayor Melissa Holland resigned, and that he hasn't ruled out running for mayor in the future.
"Only the future will tell, but I'll tell you one thing," he said. "If I want to come back into office, and I don't want to move out of my house, that's the only job available out there, in the city — and I don't want to use the city as a trampoline to go anywhere else."
Branquinho's walkout prompted limited reactions from his colleagues at the time. Alfin had spoken of it only to tell City Clerk Virginia Smith to note it in the meeting record.
Councilman Ed Danko, who's clashed with Branquinho in the past, spoke briefly at the end of the July 12 workshop, calling the walkout "unfortunate" and "a bit childish."
Branquinho said he didn't want to respond to that charge in order to keep the council going in a "more professional direction."
He said he'd gotten "an outpouring of love" after the walkout from constituents who supported it.