Residents of Lakeland cast their ballots during the local elections on Nov. 2 to elect the mayor and two city commissioners
“Local elections are just as important for students at FSC to get involved in. Even if Lakeland is your home away from home, as a member of the community you should play a part in helping better it,” senior Lexi Potter said.
Mutz won the election with 58.6% of the vote compared to Stevin’s 41.4%.
Local and cultural issues such as police body cameras, affordable housing, funding for the police and the removal of the Confederate statue at Munn Park took center stage during the campaign. Stevin took a populist and culturally conservative approach, opposing the alleged radicalization of the city, while Mutz promoted his record as mayor.
“I decided to run for mayor because I saw a lot of things happening in Lakeland that I saw happen in Minneapolis that brought down the destruction of Minneapolis,” Stevin said to a reporter for ABC Action News.
“The mayor’s race heated up a lot because of Saga’s position on what was a dead issue: the Confederate statue,” said Dr. R. Bruce Anderson, the associate professor of political science at Florida Southern College.
Mutz, the incumbent mayor, grew up in Indiana before moving to Lakeland in 1996. Prior to successfully running for office in 2017, Mr. Mutz ran an automall and participated in numerous local organizations. Stevin grew up in Lakeland before moving to Minneapolis, but decided to return to Lakeland last year.
The commission elections were “remarkably civil exchanges on real policy issues-the road diet, infrastructural needs and the future of the airport,” said Dr. Anderson.
Incumbent Sara Roberts McCarley faced a challenge from Democrat Allyson Lewis in a race which is designated as nonpartisan. Lewis rose to prominence in the community last year after organizing racial justice forums.
While progressive groups such as Ruth’s List endorsed Ms. Lewis’s pro-social justice campaign, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and local businesses supported Ms. McCarley, a Florida Southern alumni.
After winning a close special election in May, Mike Musick faced off against Shandale Terrell again in the election for Commission District D. Mr. Musick is the owner of Musick Roofing Company and a staunch conservative while Mr. Terrell is an educator and Democrat who ran for the Florida House of Representatives prior to running for the Commission this year.