Lakeland election season ramps up

By , Special to the Daily Memphian Updated: July 15, 2022 5:43 PM CT | Published: July 15, 2022 4:50 PM CT

The Lakeland election season is picking up speed, with new candidates and incumbents pulling petitions.

Former Lakeland Commissioner and Vice Mayor Josh Roman is the first person to pull a petition to run for Lakeland mayor.

More candidates enter races in four suburban cities

“I know this is just the beginning of a four-month journey to earn Lakeland’s vote for mayor, but it feels good to get the process started,” said Roman, who is returning to politics after a two-year absence. He chose not to seek reelection as commissioner in 2020.

Mayor Mike Cunningham decided in May that he would not seek a second term.

Roman plans to focus on three areas: maintaining low taxes, low crime and high-quality residential by preserving resources like Garner Lake, mature trees and the Stonebridge golf course; focusing support on already-approved business, residential and municipal projects to see them thrive; and strengthening the successful city and school partnership.

Connie McCarter has pulled and filed a petition to run for Lakeland commissioner. This will be her first time running for elected office.

“I’ve had numerous Lakeland citizens, friends and supporters in and outside of Lakeland encouraging me to seek office,” said McCarter, who is a registered nurse at Methodist Le Bonheur Health Care. She has a Master’s degree in education and certifications in neuroscience and nursing professional development.

“My whole campaign is about all the people. If elected, I want to encourage people to be respectful, and I want to see our city unified,” McCarter said.

She was appointed to the Lakeland Board of Appeals in 2020 and serves on the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan Advisory Committee.

“I feel like the time is now for me to be more engaged to help make a difference while I’m listening to the citizens,” McCarter said.

Some of her main goals will be fostering a healthy and safe environment as well as economic development, maintaining green spaces and creating trails, and growing the city’s school system.

McCarter joins incumbent Commissioner and Vice Mayor Michele Dial so far in the race. Over the past few months, Dial had been thinking over whether she would run again, and she recently decided to pull a petition.

She is in her second term as commissioner. Her first began in 2015 before the city had instituted two-term limits for commissioners and the mayor. She resigned from that seat in 2017 to deal with a family health situation and then was re-elected in 2018.

Lakeland has two-term limits for its mayor and commissioners.

“My decision to run again is centered around all things necessary to carry on the positive momentum of growing Lakeland through community-focused improvements,” Dial said.

Her priorities include supporting City Hall staff, growing the city’s Parks and Recreation programs and facilities, advancing sports tourism and economic development, and building the Community Advisory Board.

The top two vote-getters will serve four-year terms as Lakeland commissioner. The other Lakeland commissioner up for reelection this year, Richard Gonzales, is still deciding if he will seek a second term.

The deadline to file petitions is Aug. 18. Early voting runs from Oct. 19 to Nov. 3, and Election Day is Nov. 8.


2022 lakeland elections Josh Roman Lakeland Mayor Mike Cunningham Michele Dial

Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian with more than 20 years of professional writing and editorial experience, working most recently with The Daily News and High Ground News.


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