Voter Guide: Fall 2021 Mayor and City Commission Election

Lakeland’s mayor and two of its city commissioners face challengers in this fall’s city elections. Read on to learn about the election, the candidates and the two charter issues on the ballot.

The races: Registered voters who live in Lakeland city limits will vote in elections for mayor and two City Commission seats on Nov. 2. If a runoff election is needed, it will be held Dec. 7. City offices are non-partisan.

Check back through Election Day. We will continue to update this Voter Guide.

Voting:

  • Election Day: Nov. 2. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Who can vote: Registered voters who live within Lakeland city limits. While two races are for seats that represent specific quadrants of the city, any registered voter may participate in those elections.
  • Sample ballot: Here
  • Where to vote: Polling places are being consolidated for this election. Find your precinct number here and then find your polling place here.
  • Early voting: Walk-in voting is available weekdays 8:30 to 4:30 from Oct. 25 to Nov. 1 at the Polk County Government Operations Center, 930 E. Parker St. Other locations (same dates and times) are Polk elections offices at 250 S. Broadway Ave. in Bartow and 70 Florida Citrus Blvd. in Winter Haven.
  • Mail ballots: The deadline to request mail ballots is Oct 23. Request one here. Ballots must be received by the Polk Supervisor of Elections by 7 p.m. on Election Day. They can be placed in the mail or placed in a secure drop box at the Polk Supervisor of Elections offices in Bartow and Winter Haven.

Mayor

Bill Mutz (incumbent)

  • Age: 67
  • Occupation: Mayor
  • Campaign slogan: “I’m still all in for ALL of Lakeland.”
  • Links: Website | Facebook | Personal Facebook
  • Brief bio: Mutz grew up in a small town in Indiana. He moved to Lakeland in 1996, when he and his sister bought Lakeland Automall, which he ran for 18 years. Mutz became involved in numerous local organizations, including board chair of Lakeland Regional Health and Lakeland Economic Development Council. (See a longer list here.) His successful run for mayor in 2017 was his first attempt at elected office.
  • Endorsements: Business Voice (Lakeland Chamber of Commerce), Lakeland Association of Realtors, Florida Family Policy Council

Saga Stevin

News coverage:

  • Political newcomer and incumbent face off – The Ledger, Sept. 21
  • Mayoral contest features candidates with opposing views – Bay News 9, Sept. 29
  • Mayor candidates differ on ways to develop northwest Lakeland – LkldNow, Oct. 6
  • Stats: Police calls are evenly distributed among Lakeland quadrants – LkldNow, Oct. 8
  • Campaign mailer raises question of Sheriff Judd’s mayoral endorsement – The Ledger, Oct. 8
  • Mutz says challenger Stevin feigned Grady Judd endorsement – Florida Politics, Oct. 12
  • Stevin takes heat at the NAACP’s forum and claims she was “set up” – The Ledger, Oct. 13

District C: Southwest

Allyson “Al” Lewis

  • Age: 28
  • Occupation: History teacher at Evans High School, Orange County; Subway franchise owner
  • Campaign slogan: “Here to Listen. Here to Serve. Passionate about the PEOPLE!”
  • Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Personal Facebook
  • Brief bio: Lewis grew up in Lakeland and graduated from Harrison School for the Arts, where she focused on drama. She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Virginia State University, a law degree from Barry University and is pursuing a master’s in education leadership and policy. She came to public notice last year when she organized a series of forums on racial justice in the wake of the George Floyd protests.
  • Endorsements: Ruth’s List Florida, The Collective PAC

Sara Roberts McCarley (incumbent)

News coverage

  • Allyson Lewis challenges Sara Roberts McCarley – The Ledger, Oct. 3

District D: Southeast

Mike Musick (incumbent)

  • Age: 49
  • Occupation: Owner of Musick Construction and Roofing
  • Campaign slogan: A conservative, small business owner pushing for transparency in your local government
  • Links: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Personal Facebook
  • Brief bio: Musick moved to Lakeland from Williamsport, Pa., when he was 7 years old. He has been married for 22 years, and all three of his children are in college. His wife was a labor and delivery nurse at Lakeland Regional for 20 years and now teaches nursing at Southeastern University. His business started out in general contracting and now focuses on roofing. His successful run for City Commission last spring was his first attempt at elected office.
  • Endorsements: Business Voice (Lakeland Chamber of Commerce), Polk Republican Executive Committee, Lakeland Professional Firefighters

Shandale Terrell

  • Age: 46
  • Occupation: ESE teacher at Crystal Lake Middle School
  • Campaign slogan: Making a difference in our community
  • Links: Website | FacebookPersonal Facebook
  • Brief bio: Terrell is a Lakeland native who attended Auburn University on a football scholarship. He has a bachelor’s degree in education from Florida A&M University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in education specialties from Nova Southeastern University. He has been a member of the Lakeland Citizens Advisory Committee, Budget Advisory Committee, Police Athletic League Board of Directors, Gang Task Force and the Police Advisory Board.
  • Endorsements:

News coverage

  • Mike Musick, Shandale Terrell face off again – The Ledger, Oct. 1

Campaign finance

Check a searchable table detailing campaign finance: who gave, how much, how many people per candidate, total dollar amounts, etc. Thanks goes to Michael Maguire of The City Zen Ship for compiling the data.

More news coverage

  • Stephanie Madden re-elected to city commission – LkldNow, Sept 17

Charter amendments

The November ballot includes two proposed changes to the Lakeland City Charter, the document that acts as a constitution for the municipal government. Both are fairly technical in nature.

Charter Amendment 1 involves the procedures to elect a new commissioner when a vacancy occurs before the end of a term. City commissioners placed it on the ballot to avoid having to hold a costly special election such as the one needed when former Commissioner Scott Franklin resigned from his seat to run (successfully) for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Its wording: Do you favor an amendment to the Lakeland City Charter to fill vacancies on the City Commission at the next regular City election following a vacancy rather than at a special election; requiring that interim commissioners appointed by Commission to fill vacancy in a district seat until next regular election reside in same district as the vacant seat; and prohibiting the interim appointment of individuals otherwise precluded by term limits from serving on the Commission?

Charter Amendment 2 involves the composition of the Canvassing Board, which reviews and certifies the results of city elections. Currently, the members of the City Commission make up the Canvassing Board with the exception of commissioners running in the current election.

It reads: Do you favor an amendment to the Lakeland City Charter providing for the appointment of the City Attorney and City Manager to the City canvassing board if fewer than three (3) members of the City Commission are available to canvass the returns of a City election?

The issue was placed on the ballot as a safeguard. The city attorney or city manager would be called upon as alternates only if three city commissioners were unable to serve on the canvassing board one year, according to City Clerk Kelly Koos, who prompted the amendment.

On years when four commissioners are running for election — it would have happened this year if Stephanie Madden had opposition — only three commissioners would be eligible to serve on the Canvassing Board. The amendment provides an alternate in the event one of the three remaining commissioners is unable to serve.

The Canvassing Board meets in the Polk Supervisor of Elections Office in Bartow at 5 p.m. on the day of each municipal election. Its main job is to compare the signatures of vote-by-mail ballots where questions had been raised about whether the signatures on the envelope and the voter ID match. When signatures are questioned, the voter is contacted and has an opportunity to prove the signature on the envelope is valid, and that often happens prior to Election Day, Koos said.

Forum videos

Mayoral debate at Believer’s Fellowship, Oct. 1

NAACP Forum, Oct. 12, 2021

Corrections, additions?

Send us corrections or additions.