Both sides of Lakeland’s strong mayor issue were explored Tuesday evening at a forum at New Bethel AME Church. The forum was sponsored by the local chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and Deta Sigma Theta Fraternity. Moderator was Sylvia Blackmon-Roberts.
City commissioners heard howls of protest last week when they were about to vote on a contract to sell 10 vacant acres near the LPD headquarters to a private developer. Most of the complaints weren’t as much about the terms of sale or the developer’s intentions as much as a perception that the deal was being rushed through before members of the public had a chance to understand the plans and comment on them.
All 15 candidates on the Nov. 7 ballot were asked the same questions and given up to 10 minutes to answer.
The magazine asked about strong mayor, small business, biggest community challenges and top priority. Their questionnaire went out before the last three candidates announced for office.
Two hours and forty three minutes after they began discussing the issue, the City Commission voted 4-3 today to wait two more weeks before deciding whether to sell 10+ downtown acres to a Tampa developer that wants to build 306 apartments and townhouses. And most of the people in the audience were happy for the delay.