Larry Durrence, who faces Michael Dunn in a runoff election for a seat on the Lakeland City Commission, has won the endorsement of both candidates who were eliminated in Tuesday’s voting. Both Jorge Fonseca and Pablo Sologaistoa say they will support Durrence in the Dec. 5 runoff.
The runoff election is being held because no candidate received at least 50 percent plus one vote Tuesday in the race for the Southwest District seat on the commission.
Durrence led in the vote tally with 46.4 percent, followed by Dunn at 37.2 percent, Fonseca at 12.1 precent and Sologaistoa at 4.2 percent.
Fonseca declared his support for Durrence on Facebook during the first half-hour after partial election results were released Tuesday night.
Fonseca said today he supports Durrence because he has experience, having served on the commission in the 1980s, and “he understands the people of Lakeland. I don’t think Michael Dunn is doing it for the right reasons and he doesn’t have the experience.”
Sologaistoa also cited Durrence’s experience and said he was impressed by his former rival’s willingness to discuss hard issues. “He’s open minded and willing listen. It’s important for the City Commission to have a customer-service attitude where serving people comes first.”
Dunn said he didn’t expect Fonseca’s support since Fonseca criticized him during the campaign but he expressed surprise he’s not being backed by Sologaistoa.
“We had made a pact earlier in the campaign that whichever of us lost would support the other. He either forgot or doesn’t care to live up to it,” Dunn said.
UPDATE: Sologaistoa says Dunn made the mutual-support suggestion to him in an off-hand manner at a campaign event and it was more like casual chit-chat than a serious “pact.”
He characterized his former opponents’ support of Durrence as looking backward, not forward: “They both campaigned on bringing something new, yet they want to recycle the past by supporting Larry.”
Sologaistoa said today the campaign for office has fueled his desire to remain in politics and anticipates running for the commission again.
Fonseca said he enjoyed meeting new people during the campaign but doesn’t think he’ll seek office again. His community service will focus on efforts to provide better housing and medical care for lower-income seniors, he said.