Last-minute campaigning in Lakeland mayor's race

12:31 AM, Nov 5, 2013   |    comments
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Lakeland, Florida - The candidates competing to lead the City of Lakeland for the next four years did some last-minute campaigning on Monday evening.

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Incumbent Mayor Gow Fields led Howard Wiggs, a city commissioner, 21 percent to 19 percent, according to a recent Florida Southern College/Ledger poll.

Fields' lead is within the poll's five percentage point margin for error, which mean the candidates are in a statistical dead heat.

On the corner of S. Florida Ave. and Beacon Road, Wiggs and a small group of supporters held signs and waved at passing cars.

"It's really important that we improve our business climate. That's where the prosperity, the commerce, and those kinds of things raises the tide for everybody," said Wiggs, while stomping for last minute votes.

Fields and his supporters worked the phones from his campaign offices on N. Florida Ave. He touted a plan he introduced that lured two major companies to the city, one of which is a new Amazon.com fulfillment center.

"We've had other companies take advantage. That means other companies expanded again, driving down unemployment ... making sure that people had a variety of jobs to choose from," said Fields.

Both candidates have been vocal about the state of the police chief following a series of sex scandals within the department. Chief Lisa Womack has been under scrutiny over whether she is properly cleaning up the department.

While the mayor does not have the authority to act against a police chief, both candidates have strong thoughts about her future.

See also: Lakeland Commissioners call for Police Chief's job

"My recommendation is the chief needs to go," said Wiggs on Monday.

A constant supporter, Mayor Fields continued to affirm his belief in the job that the chief is doing to fix issues within the department.

See also: Shocking 911 call released in LPD officer sex arrest

"She was told there were problems. She was told to uncover them and fix it. It turned out to be worse than what we had imaged, but the assignment was still the same."

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