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Suburban Spotlight

A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned a change at the top of Lakeland city government with Manager Shane Horn leaving for a job in Michigan.

Now another major player is stepping aside at Lakeland City Hall.

Mayor Mike Cunningham has decided one term is enough as the elected leader of the suburb. Cunningham announced Thursday that he would not seek reelection as Lakeland’s mayor when the office is on the Nov. 8 municipal election ballot.

I won’t necessarily say Cunningham’s announcement was a surprise. There were some whispers recently about the mayor stepping aside, but when asked by reporter Michael Waddell, Cunningham said he hadn’t made a decision on his political future yet.

That was two weeks ago. About that time, an ethics complaint by Cunningham against Commissioner Wesley Wright was deemed to have no merit. Cunningham said he thought Wright and a couple of other commissioners had violated the Open Meetings law by discussing the Ashmont development by John Hyneman. He based his complaint on a social media post by Wright that commissioners were 3-2 against the development.

Wright said he based his statement on reading the room in previous public discussions about the project.

It is interesting that his words regarding the decision not to run included some frustration with the split on the Lakeland board.

“Being on the minority end of most controversial votes to providing leadership through this pandemic has been incredibly challenging at times,” Cunningham wrote.

Bloc voting on suburban boards is not unusual. There are plenty of examples where one group of aldermen or commissioners hold the majority and vote as such – in Germantown, Collierville and in Lakeland.

In Lakeland’s case, that majority wasn’t in step with the Cunningham administration, leading to the frustration.

Thus far, only former commissioner Josh Roman has announced he is running for the mayor’s office. But there are still plenty of weeks left for others to step up.

It will be interesting to see who wants to challenge for the city’s top elected spot. - Suburbs editor Clay Bailey

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After one term in office, Lakeland Mayor Mike Cunningham has decided not to seek a second term as the suburb’s top elected official.

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