The group promoting a strong mayor for Lakeland has opened its p.r. campaign with a new website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and an ad in The Ledger on Sunday.

Citizens for a Strong Lakeland also unveiled a seafoam green-and-white logo with a stylized swan that was apparently created by a south Florida company hired online by Tallahassee consultants.

The group, organized initially by Gregory Fancelli, has hired Matt Doster, founder of Tallahassee’s Front Line Strategies, to handle public relations, and lawyer Crystal Spencer, who helped with Pensacola’s successful strong-mayor push, to work on the proposed revision to Lakeland’s city charter.

“We felt that because of the sensitive nature of the initiative, it was best to hire outside assistance for most aspects of the project, this is also to avoid any possible conflict of interest that local Lakeland service provider may have incurred,” Fancelli said today.

The mobile-friendly website (aptly named does not list names of the committee’s leaders, and corporate papers that would list officers do not yet appear on Florida’s

The website uses the term “executive mayor” instead of “strong mayor” to describe the kind of municipal chief executive the group envisions. The executive mayor would control the day-to-day operations of city government and would be separate from the City Commission, which would remain a legislative body. No word on whether the mayor would hold veto power.

The site outlines in general terms the group’s goals and lets residents sign up to join the effort.  An executive mayor, the group says, will be able to act quickly and decisively, as opposed to the current system where it’s unclear who’s in charge: “Sometimes it’s the city commission. Sometimes, it’s the city manager. Currently, the mayor, while holding an executive title, does not hold power beyond a single vote on the city commission.”

It also talks about the process to change the city charter: “With the signatures of 10 percent of the voters, citizens may petition the city commission to place a proposed amendment on the ballot. The city must then provide for an election, which may take place in a special election or on the ballot with another already scheduled election.”

The website gives no indication when the charter revision will be available for residents to read.

This post was originally posted at 10:44 a.m. on June 29 and updated at noon to include a comment by Gregory Fancelli and clarify the role of Citizens for a Strong Lakeland.

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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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