Stephanie Madden had geared up for a major campaign for re-election to a second term on the Lakeland City Commission. At one point, two other people had said they were running for her at-large seat. But when candidate qualifying ended at noon today, she found herself re-elected without opposition.

One of the potential opponents, Saga Stevin, announced Aug. 12 she was switching races, saying she had been encouraged to run for mayor.

Another potential challenger, Jarvis Washington, had filed his intention to run with the City Clerk’s Office. But he waived filing campaign finance reports and had not formally filed to run for office by the time qualifying ended today. Washington has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Madden said she was shocked to learn she had no opposition, and she added, “I am so grateful to all of my supporters — the ones who encouraged me to run again — and I am elated to be able to serve my city for another four years.”

So certain was Madden that she would face opposition that she had been actively fund-raising and her campaign’s yard signs started going up recently.

She reported raising $24,550 by the end of August — the highest dollar amount of any candidate in city races this year. She said she will give money back to her 61 financial contributors after she settles campaign expenditures made so far.

Donors giving Madden the maximum $1,000 allowed were (alphabetically by first name) Brittany Sale, Carol Barnett, Carolare Inc. (a Carol and Barney Barnett company), FHS Industrial, Hoyt (Barney) Barnett, Kevin Knowlton, Lawrence Maxwell, Robert Madden, Robert Sale, Sale Insurance, Stephanie Madden and The Hollingsworth Group (Robert Madden).

Madden, 51, was first elected to the City Commission in November 2017, when she drew 51% of the vote in a five-way race that included then-incumbent Jim Malless.

In that race, Madden stressed her experience in business as  a co-owner of Madden Branded Goods and as a volunteered through the Junior League and her six children’s schools. 

In 2017, she received the backing of Lakeland First, a political action committee whose contributors are also connected to the Lakeland Economic Development Council. So far, Lakeland First has not reported any donations to 2021 City Commission races.

A newly formed political action committee, 1885 Forward, has posted social media ads supporting Madden. The organization reported no contributions or expenditures in August, the month it was formed.

Madden holds one of two at-large seats on the seven-person, nonpartisan commission. The other members include the mayor and four commissioners who represent geographic districts but are elected citywide.

Madden’s win reduces the number of races on the Nov. 2 city ballot to three. The races and candidates are:

Mayor: Bill Mutz, retired owner of Lakeland Auto Mall, challenged by Saga Stevin, a health/beauty entrepreneur

City Commission, southeast district: Mike Musick, owner of Musick Roofing, challenged by educator Shandale Terrell in a reprise of their matchup this past spring.

City Commission, southwest district: Sara McCarley Roberts, who has directed several non-profit organizations, challenged by Allyson Lewis, a community activist and fast-food entrepreneur.

Check campaign contributions for all of this year’s city of Lakeland races at The City Zen Ship.

The Nov. 2 Lakeland election is open to all registered voters who live within city limits. Those who are not yet registered may do so online or pick up forms at several locations around town.

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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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1 Comment

  1. Saga Stevin is the 912 candidate to challenged the the allegedly democratic socialist government in Lakeland. Thought you might like to know.

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