Lakeland elects Josh Roman as new mayor without opposition

Two commissioners and three school board members also unopposed

By , Special to the Daily Memphian Updated: November 09, 2022 1:59 AM CT | Published: November 08, 2022 8:01 PM CT
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The City of Lakeland has a new mayor, a new commissioner and a new school board member, all of whom were elected Tuesday, Nov. 8, without opposition.

The ballot made for an uneventful election in the Northeast Shelby County suburb, with the winners basically claiming victory after they cast votes for themselves.

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Josh Roman, a former Lakeland commissioner and vice mayor, was elected mayor. Current Mayor Mike Cunningham decided in May not to run for a second term, leaving Roman as the sole candidate.

“It just feels like the time is finally here to get ready to go to work,” Roman said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to once again work with the other commissioners in Lakeland and accomplish some great things.”

He spent the day at Lakeland’s First Baptist Church polling station and was impressed with voter turnout.

“I’ve been doing this in Lakeland for over 20 years, and it seems like every year it gets stronger regardless of what’s on the ballot. This year was no different,” Roman said. “I enjoyed meeting everybody and just kind of used it as a day of celebration.”

Roman has served on Lakeland boards since 2003, starting with the Chamber of Commerce, then moving to the Economic Development Commission in 2005.

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Michele Dial and Connie McCarter also ran uncontested to win the two open commissioner seats.

McCarter, a registered nurse at Methodist Le Bonheur Health Care, will be serving her first term in an elected position. Like Cunningham, Commissioner Richard Gonzales decided not to seek a second term, and McCarter will fill his seat.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I will take being a public servant very seriously,” she said. “I want to listen to and represent all the people of Lakeland. That’s what I’m about. Hopefully, with the mayor and Board of Commissioners, we’ll be able to make a lot of positive change for this city.”

Although she was running unopposed, she handled her campaign as if she faced a challenger by talking with more than 2,000 Lakeland residents.

McCarter plans to focus on looking into solutions to the city’s large debt obligations.

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“People are very concerned with taxes going up and how they are going to be able to afford to live, especially with this national crisis going on,” she said of the economic challenges and inflation.

With all six Lakeland races being uncontested this year, voter turnout was expected to be lighter than normal, but McCarter was surprised with the participation. She spent part of the day near the Interstate 40 interchange encouraging people to vote and then the rest of the day at First Baptist Church.

Incumbent Commissioner Dial, an assistant principal at Bon Lin Elementary School in Bartlett and also Lakeland’s current vice mayor, earns her third term in the position. Her first began in 2015 before the city instituted two-term limits for commissioners and the mayor. She resigned from that seat in 2017 to deal with a family health situation. She then won a second term in 2018.

Three Lakeland School System Board of Education positions were also on Tuesday’s ballot, with just three candidates vying to fill them.

Incumbents Laura Harrison, who was elected to the board in 2018, and Deborah Thomas, who has served on the board since the district’s inception in 2014, earned new four-year terms. Harrison is a FedEx strategic planning and analysis manager, and Thomas is a former teacher and current independent contractor, writer and assessment specialist for Pearson Education.

Real estate executive Keith Acton, a member of the Lakeland Economic Development Commission, won the third open board seat. Kevin Floyd, who served the district since its inception, is stepping down at the end of his term.


City of Lakeland Board of Commissioners Nov 2022 elections Josh Roman Michele Dial Connie McCarter Keith Acton Laura Harrison Deborah Thomas

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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