The race for mayor of Lakeland has attracted a fourth candidate: Christopher Diaz, a 33-year-old former Polk Sheriff’s detective and current co-owner of a children’s goods retailer. He told The Ledger he doesn’t have a position on the strong-mayor ballot issue: “It’s up to the voters. I’m looking to be a representative of their voice. … I’m not running for mayor to put my ideals in them. They tell me what do to, and I will serve them to the best of my ability.”
Jason Montgomery (LinkedIn), a 43-year-old Lakeland resident who works in Manatee County as the school district’s athletic director, has filed to run as a Democrat for the Florida House District 40 seat currently held by Republican Colleen Burton. He faces another Democrat, Shandale Terrell, in the August 2018 primary.
Patrick Shawn Jones, a 52-year-old heavy metal DJ and certified sterilization technician (Facebook profile), has filed (document) to run for mayor, offering a strong contrast with businessman Bill Mutz, the only other announced candidate. “I know how it is to ride a city bus to work and have to walk home because the bus doesn’t run at night. I know what the price of bread is at Walmart — I can’t afford Publix,” he told reporter Christopher Guinn.
Three new candidates for Lakeland City Commission share a desire to speak for citizens they say have been marginalized:
- Kathy Barsotti, the 58-year-old co-owner of Django and Friends Dixieland Emporium, wants to represent people who work and pay taxes but are never asked their opinion: “small businesses, artists, the creators in town, the people all through Dixieland and the lower elements of Lakeland.” She enters a four-way race for an at-large seat.
- Laurel Pullo, a 42-year-old who’s had a career as a manager and supervisor in the hospitality sector, is also running for the at-large seat. She said she wants to bring a blue-collar voice and also end red-light cameras, increase littering penalties, help fund schools and curb interferences on property rights.
- Pablo Sologaistoa, a 28-year-old with a background in social services and volunteerism, is the fourth candidate in the race for the southwest district seat. He wants to make sure north Lakeland residents have an equal voice and supports both the strong-mayor move and plans to test a South Florida Avenue “road diet.”
Greg Williams, a 12-year Lakeland resident who teaches graphic design at Keiser University, is one of four Democrats running for the congressional seat held by Dennis Ross, a Lakeland Republican.