A Final Pair of Questions for the Mayoral Candidates

In my continuing effort to give you a peek behind the scenes, here’s an email I sent Friday to the two Lakeland mayoral candidates:

We’re in the last days of the campaign. On Monday and Tuesday I’d like to have a chance for Lakeland Local readers to see something from each of you. However, by now you’ve answered every question about your campaign, your experience, and your hope for Lakeland’s future.

With that in mind, I do still have a pair of questions. I am sending you both the same questions. I’ll print the questions and your answers verbatim. Please just get me the answers by 8am Monday.

1) What is the one point about you and your campaign that you feel received the least press? What do you feel the media could have covered better?

2) There will be at least two new commissioners in 2010. Remember back to your first few weeks on the Commission. What piece of advice would you give the new guys

Yes, softball questions, but if you haven’t found their answers to the tough questions, you haven’t paid much attention to the campaign. I crafted those questions to improve media coverage, and to see what experience each was willing to share with the new commissioners.

What follows are their answers (in the order received):

Jim Verplanck

Dear Chuck,

I hope this email finds you well.

In response to your first question, I would say that the aspect of my campaign that has received the least coverage and/or recognition has been the amount of door-to-door canvassing we have done. I personally have knocked on thousands of doors during the last few months. Door-to-door campaigning allows me to meet face-to-face with residents and answer their questions one-on-one. There is no substitute for that type of interaction, and I have truly enjoyed the experience.

In response to your second question: First and foremost the new commissioners must realize that this is a family commitment and sacrifices are made by both yourself and those who love you. It isn’t something that can be done alone. Secondly, I would encourage them to learn the procedures of how the Commission operates so that they may be effective in their new roles. New commissioners are also assigned to committees, and it is incumbent up on them to learn the issues that could potentially come before them. Finally, they need to know that they are going to face some tough decisions, and it is their responsibility to make those tough decisions based on what is right for the residents and the City of Lakeland.

And I look forward to working with the new commissioners as the next Mayor of Lakeland.

Please let me know if you need anything further.

Warmest regards,

Jim

Gow Fields

1) What is the one point about you and your campaign that you feel received the least press? What do you feel the media could have covered better?

It is my feeling that the faithful and diligent service that I have provided to this community has not received the coverage that it should. I have balanced owning and operating a business, being a dedicated community volunteer, faithfully fulfilling appointments from each of the last four governors and one U.S. Senator of this state (Governors Martinez, Chiles, Bush and Crist and Sen. Bill Nelson) representing Central Florida, while also diligently serving as a city commissioner. I have done this as part of effort to improve our community, bring it closer together and improve our standing in the Central Florida region within an environment that is rapidly changing around us.

The media could have done a better job of covering the differences as to how the candidates approach issues, how involved they are in developing solutions and how they take action while moving toward a resolution.

2) There will be at least two new commissioners in 2010. Remember back to your first few weeks on the Commission. What piece of advice would you give the new guys?

My advice to the new commissioners would be to make sure they feel free to ask all the questions they feel are necessary to fully understand the matter before them as they study the issues and then make a decision. I would go further to encourage them to be totally at ease with taking additional time away from the actual meetings with the managerial team to make sure they have all the background that is reasonably available. There will be people who come before them or meet with them who have a concern that they want heard and addressed. It will be important to remember that the concerns of the people deserve to be heard and addressed. However, they must be aware to discern between those who have a legitimate concern and those who have an axe to grind and want to have a new commissioner take up their cause with an incomplete set of facts. I am not suggesting that you do not hear them out. I am strongly suggesting that after hearing them out you ask questions before making accusations or assumptions. In short, you will have to become a very good “detective” and be willing to ask a lot of questions as you move toward a resolution. Lastly and most importantly, remember that they represent the citizens, that is who elected them and that is who they answer to. All the best to them as I know they will do well.

Gow