By Jacklyn Washington
Currently in the city of Lakeland, there are two very strong, opposing campaigns launching full force ahead in attempts to sway voters in Polk County.
When they take to the ballots on Nov. 7th, 2017, Lakelanders have a decision to make about the way their government is currently run. It’s hard to be unaware of the battle taking place between the two campaigns because they have both littered the town with tons of propaganda for their prospective sides.
Along Lake Hollingsworth it’s clear to see the giant light blue signs that say “Yes for a Stronger Lakeland” and the dark black signs in contrast that read “No Boss Mayor.” Some are wondering what these signs mean. Let’s break it down.
In Lakeland’s current structure, there is what some are deeming a ‘weak mayor.’ The weak mayor is not the chief executive of the city government but instead votes on the city commision and has a ceremonial title. There are seven city commissioners who are elected by the people to serve alongside this mayor.
Citizens for a Strong Lakeland is, according to its website, “a group of citizens united for a better, stronger future for Lakeland.”
The group formed in early summer 2017 and has only increased in size. Strong Lakeland is advocating for a strong, people’s mayor who will be an elected official with authority over the executive functions of city government. This strong mayor would no longer vote on the city commission.
Instead, the mayor would be responsible for the city’s day-to-day functions.
These reasons include a standpoint of scal responsibility, seeing that the pro- posed change would cost taxpayers more money. The change proposes a mayor who will be paid over $100,000, along with an- other city commissioner at $30,000. No Boss Mayor also believes the initiative will give the mayor too much power, due to an increase in term limits for the mayor from 16 to at least 20 years that is hidden in the ne print.
The most controversial claim made by No Boss Mayor is that Strong Lakeland lacks active community support.
While Strong Lakeland’s website is covered in photos, which make it seem as though many citizens are engaged in the campaign for a strong mayor, No Boss Mayor’s website portrays quite the opposite.
They claim that Strong Lakeland is a small group of individuals whose entire funding comes from one wealthy individ- ual who ‘hired out of town lawyers who used vague and incomplete info to collect signatures’ for their petition. This is backed up by documentation of Strong Lakeland’s nancial statements, which show that near- ly all of their funding comes from just one checkbook.
Regardless of how each campaign got to where it is, in the end, it is Lakeland citi- zens who will decide the city’s direction in the future.
The decision will be on the Nov. 7th mayoral ballot. The contest between these groups is still active and they look forward to seeing what the people decide.
For more information, visit nobossmayor.com and stronglakeland.com
To see the proposed change to the City Charter, both sites provide information.