Phillip Walker

The interim city commissioner chosen to replace Phillip Walker could possibly be … Phillip Walker. The 13-year incumbent had resigned from his city position in connection with his bid to become a state representative. He lost that race to Jennifer Canady on Tuesday; on Friday morning, just before the noon deadline, he submitted an application for the one-year interim position.

City commissioners are scheduled to select from among nine applicants on Sept. 19. A change in the City Charter approved by voters last year allows the seven-member commission to fill vacancies on the board.

The term of office for the interim commissioner will be Nov. 7, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2023. If Walker is selected, it mark his final year as a commissioner due to term limits.

The position on the nonpartisan board represents Lakeland’s northwest district, which is bordered on the east by Florida Avenue/U.S. 98 North and on the south by the CSX railroad tracks. (See a map here.)

In addition to Walker other applicants are:

  • Lolita Berrien, a member of the city Planning & Zoning Board and former presiding chair of the Neighborhood Association Coalition
  • Tracy Faison, a registered nurse who has been a business owner and president of Lake Gibson High Booster Club and Lakeland Storm Youth Football and Cheerleading
  • Daryl Forehand, a pastor and former correctional service consultant who is a previous president of the Lakeland Police Athletic League
  • Guy LaLonde Jr., a Publix meat manager who owns two events businesses.
  • Veronica Rountree, a community health services advocate whose community activities include president of the Neighborhood Association Coalition, chair of the Code Enforcement Board and Police Advisory Board
  • Ricky Shirah, who owns a towing business, has taken the Chamber of Commerce course for potential candidates has run for City Commission previously
  • Samuel Simmons, a former city of Lakeland accountant who is president of the Webster Park Civic Association, a past president of the Neighborhood Coalition Council and a co-founder of the Central Florida Business Diversity Council
  • Saga Stevin, a medical lab specialist who ran for mayor of Lakeland last year.

Walker, 68, filed a resignation from office in May effective Nov. 7, a requirement under state law to run for another office. He received 36.5% of the vote Tuesday in his bid for Florida House of Representatives District 50 against the better-funded Canady.

If Walker is not appointed to the interim role, his last commission meeting will be Oct. 17.

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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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