Incumbent Kay Fields is squared off against challenger Terry Clark for the District 5 Polk County School Board seat. More
He was born Charles Crofford Dockery in May 1933, but Lakelanders grew to know and love him as Doc Dockery, a self-made man, the founder of Summit Consulting, a political kingmaker, an advisor to governors and author of two books. More
Presenting LkldNow’s Voter Guide, 2022. We hope you find this guide valuable to research candidates who aspire to represent Lakeland residents in Congress, the Legislature and Polk County offices. Click the links for the races you’re interested in. These articles will be updated regularly through election season.
Primary election: Aug. 23 | General election: Nov. 8
- Coming soon: We’ll be adding more links to news articles and forum videos. Links that talk about a specific type of office (i.e. School Board) will be on the page for that office. We will have a separate page for links to articles and videos that cover multiple office.
Check videos from local candidate forums below. Drop us a line if we’re missing videos from local forums that you know of.
- School Board and Polk County judge candidates, NAACP Lakeland, July 5
- School Board candidates, County Citizens Defending Freedom, July 16
- Florida House candidates Jennifer Canady and Phillip Walker, NAACP Lakeland, July 20
Links to news coverage that includes multiple kinds of local election campaigns. Links about a single race or a similar category of races (Polk County School Board, for example) can be found on the pages for those categories.)
- Chamber straw poll favors incumbents for re-election and Republicans in partisan races — LkldNow, Aug. 10
- Candidates make late pitches at Chamber event — The Ledger, Aug. 12 (subscribers-only story)
Three Florida House districts includes portions of Lakeland, but there are elections in just two of them. Rep. Melony Bell, a Republican whose District 49 includes parts of south Lakeland, was re-elected without opposition.
The two Lakeland-area House races on the Aug. 23 primary ballot each involve two Republican candidates. Since there is no Democratic opponent in either race, these are considered “universal primaries,” meaning any registered voter in the district can vote regardless of party status.
There is no incumbent in this race; Colleen Burton, who represented a similar district before this year’s reapportionment, reached term limits and is running for a state Senate seat. The candidates are Jennifer Canady, a Lakeland Christian School teacher who has been appointed to several statewide boards, and Phillip Walker, a 12-year member of the Lakeland City Commission and retired insurance agency owner.
- Lakeland, age 48
- Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
- Campaign finance
- Campaign slogan: Conservative Republican for State Representative
- Endorsements: Business Voice (Lakeland Chamber of Commerce), Polk County Builders Association, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Chamber, Police Benevolent Association
- At least two Lakeland Republicans running in Florida House primary — LkldNow, Feb. 21, 2021
- Jennifer Canady has early funding lead over Phillip Walker – The Ledger, June 19, 2021
- If Jennifer Canady wins Lakeland House race, husband Chief Justice Charles Canady could face legal issues – The Ledger, August 12, 2021
- Video: NAACP Candidate Forum – Jennifer Canady and Phillip Walker, Florida House District 50 – LkldNow, July 20
- Canady, Walker face off for Florida House seat – The Ledger, Aug. 9
Incumbent Josie Tomkow, who hails from a north Polk cattle family, is running for her third term in the Florida House. She faces Bill Olson of Davenport, who had planned to run for U.S. House against Darren Soto, but switched races after conservative east Polk was removed from Soto’s Democratic-leaning district.
- House Speaker-designate Paul Renner endorses Josie Tomkow for HD 51 – Florida Politics, June 6
- Bill Olson leaves US House race to challenge Representative Josie Tomkow in Florida House – The Ledger, June 22
- Tomkow and Olson run low-key campaigns, without forums or interviews – The Ledger, Aug. 12 (subscribers only)
For years, Lakeland was represented by one member of the U.S. House of Representatives. After this year’s realignment of districts, Lakeland is split nearly in half. District 15 covers all of Lakeland west of Florida Avenue and U.S. 98 N. District 18 covers the other half.
District 15, Republicans
The District 15 race is getting a lot of attention because it has no incumbent. Political analysts say Republicans have a clear edge in the district, but an upset is possible. The three women on the Republican ballot have significant government experience and name recognition while the two men have proven adept at fund-raising despite lower profiles. At one time, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland was a candidate for this primary, but he has withdrawn.
- PAC supporting Laurel Lee gets $1 million infusion – Florida Politics, July 19
- Misleading ads tied to PAC supporting Stargel – Florida Politics, Aug. 4
- Five Republicans vie to be candidate for Florida’s new 15th Congressional district – The Ledger, Aug. 11
District 15, Democrats
Most of the attention on the Democratic side of this race has gone to Alan Cohn, a former TV reporter who has run for Congress twice before, and Eddie Geller, a video producer and comedian who far outpaced the other candidates in fund-raising as of the end of June.
- Tampa, age 59
- Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Campaign finance
- Campaign slogan: Independent Leadership for Florida
- Endorsements: Former Governor/Congressman Charlie Crist, Former Florida CFO Alex Sink, Former Education Commissioner Betty Castor, State Attorney Andrew Warren, Former Florida House Majority Leader Samuel Bell III, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel, and six labor unions
Open District 15 seat draws five ambitious Democrats – The Ledger (subscribers only), Aug. 10
District 18, Republicans
Reapportionment put Scott Franklin, a former Lakeland city commissioner, into District 18; he is currently completing his first term in Congress. There are no Democratic candidates in the race.
Under the latest reapportionment of the Florida Legislature, Lakeland is split between two Senate districts:
- District 12 includes all of Lakeland north of the Polk Parkway as well as most of Polk County north of State Road 60.
- District 47 includes all of Lakeland and its suburbs south of the Polk Parkway and extends south to Lee County.
Both district elections include one Republican and one Democrat, so neither race will be represented on the Aug. 23 primary. Both seats will be decided in the Nov. 7 general election.
This race will be decided in the Nov. 8 general election. Republican Colleen Burton is seeking to be elevated to the Florida Senate after serving the maximum eight years in the Florida House. Democrat Veysel Dokur is an IT engineer and first-time office seeker. Both are Lakeland residents.
Republican incumbent Ben Albritton of Wauchula served in the Florida House for eight years before being elected in 2018 to the Senate, where he is in line to be Senate president for 2024-26. Democratic candidate Christopher Proia of Fort Myers is a truck driver and stand-up comedian.
Ben Albritton (incumbent)
- Wauchula, age 53
- Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
- Campaign finance
- Campaign slogan: Faith. Families. Freedom.
- Endorsements: Business Voice (Lakeland Chamber of Commerce); former U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross and Tom Rooney; State Attorney Brian Haas; former Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs, Polk County Builders Association
One School Board run-off race will be decided on Nov. 8 because none of the three candidates received a majority vote. The race was one of four seats on the nonpartisan Polk County School Board that were contested in the Aug. 23 primary election. Each seat represents a separate geographic area, but School Board members are elected countywide.
In the primary, challenger Rick Nolte unseated first-term incumbent Sarah Fortney after he received the endorsement of Gov. Ron DeSantis; Kay Fields was elected to her fifth term over challenger Terry Clark; and Justin Sharpless defeated Sara Jones for an open seat.
- Texts falsely claim School Board member is under criminal inquiry – The Ledger, July 1
- Lisa Miller faces two challengers in her bid for a second term – The Ledger, Aug. 3
- School Board District 7: Miller, Quary and Sessions – LkldNow, Aug. 9
- Nolte Unseats Fortney; Fields Returns; Sharpless Wins; Miller Faces Sessions in Runoff, LkldNow, Aug. 23
News and video links – multiple seats
- School Board races are supposed to be nonpartisan, but both parties are endorsing – The Ledger, July 1
- Video: County Citizens Defending Freedom candidate forum, July 16
- Two companies run by School Board campaign manager found in breach of contract – The Ledger, July 27 (subscribers only)
- Video: School Board candidates air views at Kiwanis forum – LkldNow, Aug. 5
- School Board candidates highlight experience vs. change – LkldNow, Aug. 12
- Stranger things surround this year’s Polk School Board races – LkldNow, Aug. 15
Registered voters throughout Polk County can vote in the Nov. 8 election for Polk County Commission, District 4, which represents portions of east Polk. It is the only County Commission race on this year’s ballot. First-term Commissioner Rick Wilson of Bartow was re-elected without opposition. The five-member Board of County Commissioners serves as the legislative body setting policy for Polk County government. Terms of office are four years.
Martha Santiago (incumbent)
- Winter Haven, age 67
- Campaign finance
- Campaign slogan: Proven Leadership Making Polk County the Best County It Can Be
- Endorsements: Sheriff Grady Judd, Business Voice, (Lakeland Chamber of Commerce), Lakeland Association of Realtors, East Polk Association of Realtors, Polk County Builders Association