Brevard County commissioners unanimously elect Kristine Zonka as chair, Curt Smith as vice chair

Dave Berman
Florida Today

The Brevard County Commission has a new leader, as Kristine Zonka was unanimously elected on Tuesday by her fellow commissioners to a one-year-term as chair.

She succeeds District 1 Commissioner Rita Pritchett as chair.

For the last year, Zonka was vice chair of the County Commission.

District 4 Commissioner Curt Smith will succeed Zonka as vice chair, after another unanimous vote during the County Commission's annual organizational meeting.

Kristine Zonka is the new Brevard County Commission chair.

Here's what you need to know about Zonka's elevation to County Commission chair:

Who is Kristine Zonka?

Zonka is the District 5 commissioner, and has been on the County Commission since November 2016. She was elected to a second four-year term as commissioner in November 2020.

Zonka's south Brevard district includes areas of Indialantic, Melbourne, Melbourne Village, Palm Bay and West Melbourne, as well as parts unincorporated Brevard.

Zonka holds doctorate and master’s degrees in nurse practice. She is a certified family nurse practitioner, and works part time for Health First Medical Group.

She previously was a member of the Palm Bay City Council for seven years.

What are some of the roles of the chair?

The chair runs the County Commission meetings, calling on fellow commissioners to speak, and monitoring the time limits for members of the public speaking on agenda items or other issues. Generally, members of the public have three minutes to speak on an issue.

The chair also appoints commissioners to serve on various local and regional boards, such as the Brevard County Tourist Development Council, the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast.

Zonka on Tuesday asked fellow commissioners to submit lists of what boards they would like to serve on, and expects to make her appointments at an upcoming meeting.

Brevard County redistricting:Brevard County Commission approves new redistricting plan; changes coming to two districts

Previously:Here's where things stand in panel's efforts to redraw Brevard County Commission districts

What are Zonka's initial goals as County Commission chair?

Zonka said she will aim to keep the meetings running smoothly and efficiently.

She wants to assure that the debate stays on topic, and doesn't evolve into people "talking in circles."

She wants to be sure everyone from the public has a chance to be heard.

But she doesn't want to waste anyone's time at meeting — both for county staff and members of the public.

On the County Commission agenda:Brevard County pushes annual rate increases for water, sewer customers for next five years

What are Zonka's general priority areas as commissioner?

Zonka notes on her District 5 County Commission page that she has advocated for roads, infrastructure, public safety and veterans’ issues, while promoting less taxation, limited government intrusion and fiscal transparency.

What does Zonka think of Pritchett's term as chair?

"You are my favorite chair," Zonka told Pritchett just before the change of command. "You run a meeting like no other."

Zonka cited Pritchett's professionalism, kindness and patience, adding that Pritchett did "an amazing job" as chair.

Curt Smith is the new Brevard County Commission vice chair.

Will Curt Smith be in line to be the next County Commission chair?

No. Traditionally, the vice chair becomes the chair in the following year.

But 2022 will be Smith's last year on the County Commission, due to term limits. He is completing his second four-year term.

That will open up the job to one of the other commissioners when the next chair election takes place in November 2022.

Under county rules, a commissioner cannot serve more than one year at a time as chair.

Dave Berman is business editor at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Berman at dberman@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @bydaveberman.

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