The group pushing for an “executive mayor” form of government for Lakeland will unveil the first draft of its proposed city charter in a public meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at the Larry Jackson branch library. Citizens for a Strong Mayor posted a meeting notice this afternoon on Facebook and sent an email “reminder.”

“At the meeting, the organization will unveil the first draft of an amended charter, which will provide a basis for further discussion,” the email read.

Any changes in the city charter would require passage in a general election. Charter amendments can be placed on the ballot either by the City Commission or by gathering signatures of 10 percent of registered voters.

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This is the third public meeting the group has held. At the second meeting, held Aug. 10 at the Larry Jackson library at 1700 N. Florida Ave., the group outlined some general principles expected to be contained in their proposal to amend the city charter. Among them:

  • A “presidential” model is envisioned in which the mayor would serve as the chief executive overseeing city staff; the city commission would serve as the legislative branch and policy setters.
  • The City Commission would continue to have seven members, although the mayor would not be one of them. Still to be decided is how many would be elected at large and whether commissioners representing a district would be elected only from voters in that district.
  • The City Commission would control city assets, including Lakeland Electric and the Lakeland Regional Health property.
  • The City Commission would appoint the city attorney, a step intended to balance powers more evenly.
  • As legislators, commissioners would enact ordinances and vote on a budget prepared by the mayor and his/her administration.
  • The mayor would have veto power over commission actions, though probably not line-item veto power on the budget.
  • The commission could override vetos, but it was unclear whether the margin would be 5-2 or 6-1. A 4-3 override had been ruled out.

Here are some discussion points from the Aug. 10 meeting, as posted by Billy Townsend, a member of the committee steering the executive mayor effort.

Billy Townsend – Mobile Uploads | Facebook

Term limits were briefly discussed at the Aug. 10 meeting. Group members said they were leaning toward term limits for the mayor but not commissioners.

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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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