Here is a look at the two candidates running for Lakeland City Commission in the Dec. 3 Lakeland runoff election.

THE BALLOT: (found here) includes just one race, a City Commission runoff.


  • Dec. 3: Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. | Find your precinct
  • Early walk-in voting: November 25-27 and December 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Supervisor of Elections Offices in Bartow (250 Broadway Ave.) and Winter Haven (70 Florida Citrus Blvd.)
  • Mail ballots: It’s too late to request one; those who received one have until 7 p.m. Dec. 3 to turn it in.

City Commission races are non-partisan. The seven-member board includes the mayor, four commissioners who live in and represent different quadrants of Lakeland, and two commissioners who are elected at-large. All commissioners are elected city-wide. (View a map of the commission districts.)

The candidates

Two first-time candidates are vying for the seat that is being vacated by Justin Troller, who has reached term limits. They received the most votes in a four-person contest in the Nov. 5 general election, but no candidate received more than 50% of the vote, triggering a runoff election.

Chad McLeod, the 37-year-old owner of a small public relations firm, has positioned himself as a father with a young family positioning Lakeland for economic growth.

He moved to Lakeland around 2013 to run McLeod Communications with his brother, Joe, after having been the public information officer for the Pinellas County tax collector and a member of the staff of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla.

Carole Philipson, 71, has emphasized her experience as a health-care executive who has served on several city boards over the years and wants to build a community that young people will want to return to.

She moved to Lakeland in 1996 to become VP of operations at Lakeland Regional Health after serving in similar positions at several hospitals in New Orleans.

General election:

On Nov. 5, McLeod received 40.7% of the vote, and Philipson received 31.5%. Next were Shandale Terrell with 18.8% and Ricky Shirah with 9%.

Voter turnout in Lakeland was 15.36% on Nov. 5. If previous patterns hold, the runoff election will see an even smaller turnout.

Mail-in ballots:

Mail-in ballots were sent to about 13,000 voters for the Dec. 3 runoff. As of Dec. 2, 4,803 had been returned. For the Nov. 5 election, 6,057 were returned out of around 13,000 sent out, for a return rate of around 47%. Mail-in ballots accounted for about 59% of the total ballots cast.

Campaign contributions:

Candidate links:

Chad McLeod: Donations | Website | LinkedIn | Personal Facebook | Campaign Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Blog | Podcast | City-produced video

Carole Philipson: Donations | Website | LinkedIn | Personal Facebook | Campaign Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


  • McLeod: Lakeland First political action committee
  • Philipson: Business Voice of Greater Lakeland (Chamber of Commerce political action committee), Lakeland Association of Realtors, West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, Lakeland Professional Firefighters Local 4173, West Central Florida Labor Council AFL-CIO, Polk County Voters League

Why they’re running:

Last spring, LkldNow asked the candidates for the at-large seat to tell us in 50 words or fewer why they are running for Lakeland City Commission. Their responses follow.

McLeod: It’s an exciting time for Lakeland, and the decisions we’re making now will affect our city for many years. I want to help make Lakeland one of the best places to live in Florida — with a strong local economy, smart government policies and opportunities for our future generations. 

Philipson: Lakeland projects significant growth in the next 20 years. We need a commissioner with the vision and leadership to collaborate with the county and other cities on a comprehensive strategy for the infrastructure (roads, transit) required to maintain our quality of life. I believe my background uniquely qualifies me to serve in this role. 

News links

LkldNow coverage:

Ledger candidate QA/profiles: McLeod | Philipson

Other Ledger coverage:

Other media:

Candidate forum videos

Oct. 21: BRIDGE Local

Oct. 8: Lakeland Rotary

Oct. 4: Lakeland Kiwanis – at-large candidates

Sept. 11: Lakeland Republican Club

Candidate positions on broadband

The issue: Should the city of Lakeland establish a municipal Internet utility?

McLeod has strong reservations, centered around the city competing against large, private tech companies in a risky area where technology is changing rapidly.

Philipson also has reservations based on the business model. She questions the city’s consultants projections of potential customers and fears that the city would have to cut rates and extend the 10-year break-even point even longer.