The three candidates running in the Jan. 15 special election for Lakeland City Commission introduce themselves in videos produced by the city communications department. The candidates are asked to talk about their background, campaign themes, time management and why a citizen should vote for them. Video links:
Mike Ferguson, The Ledger’s new City Hall reporter, profiles the three candidates running in the Jan. 15 special election to fill the remaining three years on the southwest district seat on the Lakeland City Commission. The seat was left vacant by Michael Dunn’s resignation in October. The candidates are:
Patrick Jones, 53, who is focusing on expanding high-speed Internet to bridge the digital divide and increasing entertainment opportunities.
Sara Roberts McCarley, 47, who is focusing on making the city more attractive for young people to return to or stay.
Bill Watts, 53, who is focusing on streamlining code enforcement and permitting, areas where he believes the city has overreached.
The divisive issues around moving the Confederate monument from Munn Park to Veterans Park continued to divide Lakeland city commissioners Friday, with some suggesting voters should have a say during a January special election and others insisting they were elected to make tough but potentially unpopular decisions that benefit the community.
Five candidates have already expressed an interest in running for city commissioner in the Jan. 15 special election to select a replacement for Michael Dunn, who resigned last month. Candidates can qualify to run the last week of November, but one has already prequalfied: Sara Roberts McCarley, former director of Polk Vision. Four others have picked up campaign packets from the city clerk: Jorge Fonseca, Shawn Patrick Jones and Pablo Sologaistoa, all of whom ran for city office last year, and David Hardy, a political newcomer.
During public comments at the end of their regular meeting Monday, city commissioners faced a barrage of criticism (and a bit of support) for their 4-3 decision three days earlier to use red-light camera funds to move the Confederate monument from Munn Park to Veterans Park. Former Mayor Howard Wiggs said it was disingenuous to claim the funds collected from fines “do not belong to our citizens.” An assistant city attorney said commissioners will be asked to make a formal vote on the red-light camera appropriations at their Nov. 19 meeting. ALSO: Video of the monument discussion
In a wide-ranging discussion with podcaster Bump Galletta, real estate investor Gregory Fancelli says he envisions another push for a strong mayor for Lakeland. “I firmly believe that the opportunity to do this again will present itself pretty soon,” said Fancelli, who spearheaded last year’s unsuccessful attempt to change the city charter to allow an elected chief executive for the city of Lakeland. The next attempt will need a broader group backing it, he said. The mayor discussion begins 33 minutes into the podcast.