Runoff to Decide Lakeland Mayoral Race

Lakeland swans
Swans near Lake Morton in Lakeview.
LAKELAND (2009-12-07) -

Voters in Lakeland are going to the polls Tuesday for the runoff election for their new mayor.

Lakeland residents will be electing their first new mayor in 17 years. Longtime mayor Buddy Fletcher announced early this year that he would not seek another term.

In November, voters split between three candidates. The charter for Lakeland requires the winning candidate to receive more than half of all votes cast – leading to the run-off election.

Both candidates are City Commissioners. Gow Fields, 46, owns an insurance business. Jim Verplanck, 71, is retired from his career as a city planner. The candidates have cast similar votes as commissioners, and both stress economic development.

Their biggest difference may be their temperaments. Verplanck is known for his direct and no-nonsense approach, while Fields is seen as affable and diplomatic.

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