Lakeland Board of Commissioners Candidates

Commissioner Candidates Share Their Visions for the City of Lakeland

Last month, The View 38002 contacted the four candidates running for Lakeland’s Board of Commissioners.

On September 17, Lakeland residents will be voting for two commissioners. Commissioners do not hold specific positions, but the top two candidates with the most votes will be elected. The commissioners serve four-year terms.

Participating candidates were given a 350-word limit for their responses. The responses printed here are unedited, except for formatting that does not change the content or intent of the answer.

The responses are grouped alphabetically by position and separated by municipality, as that is the way that they will appear on the ballot.

Two Electoral Candidate Forums are planned for Lakeland BOC candidates. The first, hosted by the Northeast Shelby County Republicans will be at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25 at Lakeland Elementary School. On Monday, August 31 at 7:00 p.m., Partnership Lakeland will host a Candidate Forum at the Refuge Church,  9871 Huff N Puff Rd, in Lakeland.

Michele Dial

Career/Occupation: Assistant Principal

Contact Info: dialmichel@aol.com

Why are you running for office?

I am a former teacher and current administrator with strong leadership, communication, and organizational skills. I am running for office to present a fresh, positive, and forward-thinking approach to Lakeland. We cannot continue to sit idle and watch other municipalities grow. I am high energy, sensible, and thorough when making decisions. It has been difficult to witness the division in our city, and it is time to look ahead while capitalizing on what makes Lakeland a unique and special place.

How many meeting of the board have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years? Did you vote in the April 16 referendum? If so, did you vote for or against the bond referendum?

I have attended six BOC meetings, and I voted in all elections, with the exception of 2014 due to logistics. Although it was and continues to be a divisive issue, I support the need for schools in our community. The middle school compromise addresses the current need of capacity issues.

Where do you see Lakeland five years from now in terms of retail/commercial development (and location), schools (middle and high), infrastructure, population, and new residential developments? What specific steps are you going to take to achieve the five year end state you described?

Lakeland has the opportunity to advance significantly with strategic, focused, and steady planning. I envision new commercial properties with immediate emphasis on the area surrounding the new interchange. The city must coordinate completion times for new business and the interchange completion. The middle school will attract new residential growth near the school site creating a phased population increase, and I would like emphasis on amenities and infrastructure enhancements such as ball fields, a sports park, and improved roadways. Taxes will always be an issue, and the board must be responsibly prioritizing Lakeland’s needs in the area of public works. I want to be frugal with residents’ tax dollars, and ensure they are being spent wisely. The City Manager, the new Planning Director, and the LDC should work together to entice new businesses as the Chamber of Commerce continues to advocate for current business needs. Monitoring trends in tax revenue, population, Arlington growth, and school enrollment will guide decisions for high school expansion plans.

What would be the first thing you would do if elected?

I will concentrate on relationships with city employees, letting them know that I support them with an open door on issues that the city will face in the coming years. As a commissioner, I will represent all of Lakeland, so I will make sure I am accessible.

Larry Pardue

Career/Occupation Owner and CEO of Idex Creative Marketing

Why are you running for office?

Lakeland needs true leadership that will represent the people.  With my experience in city planning and conservative fiscal views I believe I can help guide our city through the challenges of the next decade without placing an ever-increasing tax burden on our residents.  High taxes and debt are not the answer; it will take true long term planning and responsible growth to make our city successful.

How many meeting of the board have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years? Did you vote in the April 16 referendum? If so, did you vote for or against the bond referendum?

As a past member of the Lakeland Planning Commission, I have attended many meetings with the BOC and the MPC.  I have voted in most all elections both here and before I moved to Lakeland.  I voted ‘No’ against the debt and taxes in the last referendum as did the majority of Lakeland voters.

Where do you see Lakeland five years from now in terms of retail/commercial development (and location), schools (middle and high), infrastructure, population, and new residential developments? What specific steps are you going to take to achieve the five year end state you described?

I believe that the present BOC and Mayor are taking Lakeland in the wrong direction.   Currently we offer excellent education and we should do everything we can to maintain those standards so that our property values stay high, but the high property tax does just the opposite! What you end up with is a city in debt, over taxed and not able to compete for new business or to grow. I will draw from my business experience and marketing background along with my conservative values to lay out a plan to lower our taxes and aggressively pursue the right kind of retail and new development that will keep Lakeland a desirable place to live. I would like to strengthen our relationship with our neighboring communities and work together on joint projects such as schools until we can afford them and need them.   Without this, I’m afraid there will not be much growth in Lakeland.

What would be the first thing you would do if elected?

If elected, the first thing I would do is to thank the voters and then roll up my sleeves and go to work for them. I know it will be hard, but getting everything we need without putting such a burden of debt on our city and levying high taxes on our residents is worth all the effort.

Josh Roman

Career/Occupation: Financial Advisor, Small Business owner

www.joshforLakeland.com

Why are you running for office?

I am running for office to honor the legacy of service in my family. My grandfather served in the Army, my father is a retired Marine and my brother served in both the Air Force and Navy. I have served as Chairman of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) and now the Lakeland Development Corporation (LDC) for the past several administrations. My experience allows me to connect with the intent of previous BOC’s while helping to build Lakeland’s future.

How many meeting of the board have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years? Did you vote in the April 16 referendum? If so, did you vote for or against the bond referendum?

With all of the important issues up for debate in the last year, it feels like I’ve lived at city hall! I believe I have voted in all of the elections in the past 5 year’s local and National. The April referendum issues were poorly communicated by those for and against. This confusion divided our city instead of bringing everyone together for a common cause. As commissioner I would seek to bring all ideas to the table to find long term solutions for the minimum tax possible. A good example of creating value on a small budget is the City Hall Park Wi-Fi project that I sponsored as EDC Chairman. We created the first Free Public Wi-Fi Park in Tennessee while upgrading city communications hardware.

Where do you see Lakeland five years from now in terms of retail/commercial development (and location), schools (middle and high), infrastructure, population, and new residential developments? What specific steps are you going to take to achieve the five year end state you described?

In the next 5 years I would hope that our efforts on the LDC to attract or incent activity in the old factory outlet mall has been finished or is close to completion. This along with completing the city’s vision for a City Gateway would be considered great progress and I would be happy. The steps I would take would be the same as I did with TDOT until they started the interchange. I would champion the outlet mall project as well as the City Gateway project keeping it top of mind. The outlet mall project can help generate revenue for our growing city while cleaning up our look. The City Gateway project can help with our sense of community and civic pride.

What would be the first thing you would do if elected?

Last rainy season uncovered drainage issues with several areas of Lakeland. I would seek to understand this issue and work towards a resolution.

Justin Smith, Board of Commissioners candidate

Career/Occupation: City of Memphis Firefighter
Small Business Owner

Why are you running for office?

I am running for office to represent the people of Lakeland through true transparency, accountability and strong desire to be a leader governed by the people, to be a voice that puts Lakeland above any special interest.

How many meeting of the board have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the past five years? Did you vote in the April 16 referendum? If so, did you vote for or against the bond referendum?

I have attended numerous BOC and School Board meetings and work sessions. I have voted in every municipal election in the past 5 years. I am proud to have been an active participant in the preparation for the bond referendum and on April 16th, it was a great show of participation at the polls for all of Lakeland! I voted against the bond, due to lack of immediate necessity.

Where do you see Lakeland five years from now in terms of retail/commercial development (and location), schools (middle and high), infrastructure, population, and new residential developments? What specific steps are you going to take to achieve the five year end state you described?

I don’t anticipate strong positive growth occurring in Lakeland due to the excessive taxation strictly tied to the desire for a new school. I will work diligently with the Municipal Planning Commission and other Commissioners to achieve lower taxes and a more appealing Lakeland in hopes to attract more residential and commercial developments to provide additional revenues for city necessities.
Lakeland is currently in a state of turmoil. We must capitalize on what makes us unique and sets us apart. It is imperative that we come together to benefit each other and place ourselves ahead of the game to bring forward our city. Old ideas and planning are no longer going to work but neither is jumping in feet first. One person, one project, one idea cannot guide us. We are in need of conservative financial planning, responsible debt limits, and short and long term goals. Citizen input, support, and involvement are vital to the success of our community.

What would be the first thing you would do if elected?

First and foremost, if elected, I would work to establish responsible debt limits and to lower our effective tax rate in hopes to attract more families and businesses to secure Lakeland’s future and maintain the unique community that makes us all Lakeland.

Other election information may be found online at www.shelbyvote.com.

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