City Commissioner Terrye Howell Re-elected for Another 3 Years
Opponent Greg Massey Withdrew from Race After Eligiblity Questions
Last updated 3/11/2020 at 11:56am
Lake Wales City Commissioner Terrye Howell has been declared re-elected for another 3-year term following the withdrawal of her opponent Greg Massey.
Massey submitted a signed statement to Lake Wales City Clerk Jennifer Nanek Tuesday, March 10 indicating his decision to end his campaign. It is possible Massey would have been ruled ineligible to run since he had a felony conviction for second degree murder and hadn't had his voting rights restored.
City officials were awaiting word from Polk Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards, who had asked the state Division of Elections to review Massey's eligibility. When Massey registered to vote on Jan. 14, 2019 he checked a box that said, "I affirm that I am not a convicted felon, or if I am, my right to vote has been restored." Providing false information on a voter registration application is a third-degree felony, with maximum penalties of $5,000 fine and/or five years in prison.
While Florida voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment to make it easier for felons to restore their voting rights, those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense were excluded. The restoration of their right to vote, sit on a jury or hold public office can only be obtained through application to the Florida Board of Executive Clemency. Massey said he applied in 2009, but an official from the Board's Florida Commission on Offender Review confirmed that as of March 5, 2020, Massey's civil rights had not been restored. A call to Massey requesting a comment has not been returned.
Howell said she is excited about having another three years to serve the citizens of Lake Wales. She was first elected in 2005 and has been a commissioner ever since except for one year when boundaries were redrawn and her seat was not up for election.
"I am happy. I am excited that I can see some of the activities we have planned for the future of Lake Wales to continue or be finished," Howell said. "I want Lake Wales – all of Lake Wales – to keep going forward."
Howell said she is looking forward to the redevelopment of downtown and the northwest business district and the continued resurfacing of city streets, which are on a five-year schedule. She said she also wants to play an active role in helping make the city more business friendly and working with the chamber and economic development council to bring more business to the community.
"I want businesses to call the commission, call our Chamber people, so we can find out why some of these people aren't coming to Lake Wales," Howell said.
Howell said she also wants to make sure the city manager and city attorney are given clear direction about the commission's expectations and how they will be evaluated. She said she is also interested in an upcoming review of the city charter, with an eye toward more clearly defining the roles, responsibilities and authority of the commission and city manager.
It is too late to alter the April 7 ballot, but any votes cast for Howell or Massey won't be counted, Nanek said.
The planned candidate forum scheduled for Monday, March 16 will only include candidates for Seat 5, incumbent Robin Gibson and challenger Bob Wood. Candidates will set up tables with campaign literature and meet informally with attendees during a reception starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Michael Crews Gallery of the Lake Wales Arts Center, 1099 SR 60 East. During this time attendees also can enjoy the current exhibit by Lake Wales artist Blair Updike.Attorney Howard Kay will moderate the forum to be held upstairs in Updike Hall starting at 6:30 p.m. will include opening and closing statements from each candidate and the opportunity to answer questions asked by a moderator. Attendees may submit questions for the moderator's consideration. Questions also may be submitted in advance online at https://tinyurl.com/LakeWales316