President Nate Dunham called the meeting to order. Blair Allen led the invocation, pledge, and Four-Way Test.
The routine agenda items of introducing of guests and visiting Rotarians and collecting Happy Dollars were dispensed of this week to allow extra time for the program. A few important announcements were shared. First, President Nate said that while he couldn't attend in-person, Wes Cowley has waited decades to say...Kentucky 20 - Florida 13!!! Jack Lowman reminded everyone there is still time to sponsor the golf outing, contribute a bottle or cash to the basket of cheer, volunteer, or register a team. Stacy Myers-Williams announced the City of Lakeland will be giving a proclamation on Monday October 18 at 9:00 during the City Commission meeting to commemorate World Polio Day. All Rotarians are invited to attend and wear their World Polio Day shirts. Josie Hill announced that volunteer training for the Know and Grow program will be coming soon, so watch your email!
Stacy Campbell-Domineck then facilitated a panel discussion among the five City Commission candidates in attendance: our own Shandale Terrell and Mayor Bill Mutz, as well as Commissioner Sara Roberts McCarly, Commissioner Mike Musick, and Saga Stevin. The candidates addressed questions on topics such as how to handle population growth in the city, city-owned broadband, development ideas for the northwest district, and solving the workforce shortage.
Sara Roberts McCarly spoke about the need for multi-modal transportation and spreading out anchor institutions such as schools and hospitals, adding roads and sidewalks in the northwest district to reestablish connectivity to the rest of the city, and increasing internships within the City government itself. She expressed gratitude to our club for the service we have long provided to the community and encouraged anyone to call her if they have issues within the City.
Mike Musick spoke about the need for more affordable housing and for thoughtful planning to be applied to the large tracts of vacant and available land in the northwest quadrant. He stated that Lakeland is a city worth living in and fighting for.
Mayor Bill Mutz reminded us that he has a 25 year record as a transparent business and community leader who believes in building consensus and equipping others to do their best. He talked about focusing on infrastructure, planning and marrying investors with the types of projects desired for particular areas of the city, putting density where we want it, matching workforce training programs to workforce gap needs (as described last week by Dr. Falconetti from Polk State), and his Lift Lakeland initiative.
Saga Stevin talked about being an advocate for law enforcement and the need for more police officers in the city. She also spoke about encouraging training in skilled trades, and bringing a nationally-recognized entrepreneurship competition to Lakeland.
Shandale Terrell identified the workforce deficit, infrastructure development, and affordable housing as issues of importance for the City of Lakeland. He is an advocate for neighborhood redevelopment and beautification initiatives (in addition to building new housing) and strategic land preservation, and believes mentoring programs for high school students could help address workforce issues.
Mike Loudon won the putting chance again and missed it again. President Nate's dad joke of the week was, "Did you know its frowned upon to laugh too loudly in Hawaii? They prefer 'a low ha'."
Next week’s program will be Dr. Veronica Jones in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.