The political arm of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Bill Read in his bid for re-election to the Northeast seat on the Lakeland City Commission. For now, he has one opponent — patient advocate Jiwa Farrell — although qualifying for office doesn’t close until Sept. 20.

The election takes place Nov. 5, and the ballot will include at least one other City Commission election and three proposed changes to the city charter.

Read owns a real estate business and portrays himself as a commissioner who views issues through a business lens. Farrell is a political activist and former credit analyst who says her goal is to “give a voice to the voiceless.”

Explaining their endorsement, Business Voice of Greater Lakeland Chair James Ring cited Read’s “continued commitment to fiscal responsibility” and said,  “If elected, we look forward to working closely with him to promote issues which impact our business community.”

Business Voice previously endorsed retired health executive Carole Philipson in a five-way race for an at-large seat on the seven-member, nonpartisan commission.

In so doing, it split with another business-affiliated political action group, Lakeland First, which endorsed Chad McLeod in that race. Lakeland First has not endorsed a candidate in the Read-Farrell race.


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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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