Goldstein Wins City Commission Race as Only Qualifier
Mayor Fultz, Commissioner Curtis Gibson Draw Opposition
Last updated 2/20/2019 at 7:41pm
Lake Wales will have at least one new city commissioner in May. Al Goldstein of Lake Ashton became the only candidate for Seat 4 when incumbent Tonya Stewart failed to qualify for re-election.
"Wow. I am elated and surprised to have this new journey over and so soon. I am looking forward with enthusiasm and vigor to work for all citizens of Lake Wales and to keep this City moving forward successfully," Goldstein said.
The City election is set for April 2, and there will be two races and one referendum question on the ballot.
Mayor Eugene Fultz faces a challenge from Bob Wood, a political activist who ran unsuccessfully for city commission in 2016. Fultz was first elected in 2013 and is seeking his third term.
Incumbent Seat 2 City Commissioner Curtis Gibson will face newcomer James Tucker, a Lake Wales native who retired about a year ago from the WalMart distribution center in Winter Haven. One other prospective candidate, Brandon Alvarado, failed to qualify by the noon deadline Friday, Feb. 15.
Gibson was elected in 2017 and is completing his first term. A public school teacher assistant, high school wrestling coach and part-time postal worker, Gibson is one of the more vocal commissioners, frequently asking questions and challenging spending priorities.
"I love Lake Wales and would be honored to continue serving the citizens," Gibson said. "I have learned a lot in my first two years and have maintained my focus on listening to what our citizens want."
A political newcomer who admits he is "not a politician", Tucker said he has time to give and doesn't have anything against the incumbent: "I'm a lifelong resident, retired now and I have the time. I think things need changing. I'm not a vote with the crowd type person."
Wood is retired from the Army and a student at St. Leo's College. He said he is running because "I want to bring fiscal responsibility to the City. I also want to concentrate on infrastructure."
Fultz said during his tenure the City has seen progress in reducing the millage rate and growing the economy.
"I would like to see the city continue to grow economically, continue to build a higher quality of life for all of our citizens, keep a balanced budget and continue to lower our millage rate in order to be more competitive in bringing in new business and industries," Fultz said.
City Clerk Jennifer Nanek said all of Stewart's paperwork was in order, but she came up three petition signatures short of the 25 needed to run.
"I would just like to thank the residents for their overwhelming support and for believing in me enough to elect me as a commissioner," Stewart said. "I pray the City continues to move in the right direction."
Also on the April 2 ballot will be a proposed Charter amendment to change the term lengths for commissioners from two years to three years. If passed, the newly elected Mayor will serve three years. Commissioners elected in 2019 will still serve two years. In 2020, the terms for commissioners would become three years.
The City Commission placed the referendum question on the ballot because they said the learning curve for new commissioners is steep and they need more time to truly become effective.