Walker Re-Elected; A Surprise Candidate Files for City Commission

Phillip Walker was re-elected to the Lakeland City Commission today since he did not receive opposition for his northwest Lakeland seat by noon, the end of the period to qualify for office.

In an unexpected move, former School Board member and County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson entered a five-way race for an open City Commission seat. And in the other contested race, incumbent Bill Read picked up an opponent, Jiwa Farrell.

The election takes place Nov. 5, and the ballot will include three proposed changes to the Lakeland City Charter.

For those not already registered to vote, the deadline to register and participate in this election is Oct. 7. To honor National Voter Registration Day, several local organizations are pooling efforts for voter registration efforts next Tuesday. Lakeland locations include:

  • GEICO Corporate Office, 3535 W Pipkin Road, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Lakeland Regional Health, 1324 Lakeland Hills Blvd., 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Lake Gibson Village, 771 Carpenters Way, 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Lakeland Public Library, 100 Lake Morton Drive, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Walker, 65, was first elected to the commission in 2009; this four-year term will be his last because of term limits.

Wilkinson joins a five-way race for an at-large seat being vacated by Justin Troller, who has reached his term limit. Previously announced candidates include Chad McLeod, Carole Philipson, Ricky Shirah and Shandale Terrell. Another announced candidate, Pablo Sologaistoa, withdrew from the race last week.

McLeod and Philipson have been the most visible candidates, with numerous yard signs around town and campaign contributions above $30,000.

Check a searchable database of campaign contributions at thecityzenship.org. Click on any candidate name in the top navigation to view donations. The list was updated in mid-August; September reports will be added soon.

The ballot will also include three proposed changes to the Lakeland City Charter. The one receiving the most attention is a measure that would reduce the barriers for the city to sell Lakeland Electric.

Another charter amendment tightens term limits for Lakeland elected officials, and a third combines numerous changes in language, most of them considered technical updates or modernizing.

Here is the language that will appear on the ballot for the charter amendments:

An amendment changing the requirements necessary to sell any City water plant or electric utility.

Do you favor an amendment to the Lakeland City Charter that changes the approval necessary to sell any water plant or electric utility from the existing requirement of 2/3 of all electors qualified to vote to 2/3 vote of the City Commission and 65% of those actually voting in the next general election following City Commission approval?

Yes_____ No_____ 

An amendment reducing terms for commissioners/mayor from 4 to 3; not applicable to incumbents.

Do you favor an amendment to the Lakeland City Charter that reduces the maximum allowable terms of city commissioners and mayor from 4 terms to 3; defining a term as any service in office over 2 years; allowing existing incumbent commissioners to serve a total of 4 terms as commissioner and mayor combined?

Yes_____ No_____ 

An amendment to the Charter to eliminate obsolete provisions, eliminate gender references; other miscellaneous provisions.

Do you favor an amendment to the Lakeland City Charter eliminating unnecessary or obsolete references and provisions; amending any gender related references; adopting applicable state law provisions; providing periodic commissioner pay adjustments similar to city employees; eliminating reduction in force provisions; creating a charter review committee and providing a periodic charter review process every 8 years; delegating regulation of taxi cabs to the City Commission; eliminating obsolete references to the Hospital Board? 

Yes_____ No_____ 

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