Communication Builds Our Community

Former Commissioner Wojcik Offers to Return to City Service

Former Lake Wales City Commissioner Betty Wojcik has applied to fill the temporary vacancy created by the suspension of newly elected Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald. Commissioners at their Aug. 3 meeting will consider Wojcik and any others who apply before then.

A Lake Ashton resident, Wojcik served on the commission from 2011-2015. She retired in 2014 as executive director of the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce.

Asked why she was interested in serving, Wojcik said "It just seems to be a time when I can help."

City commissioners at their July 20 meeting rejected the first three applicants, including former Commissioner Al Goldstein who lost to Fitzgerald April 6 by 32 votes, rental property owner and youth sports coordinator Richard DeLoach, and day care worker and youth coach James Loydd. Three of the four commissioners must vote to confirm an appointment.

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Fitzgerald July 7 pending the outcome of her arrest on felony charges of interference with custody of a minor and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Fitzgerald was arrested June 3 for allegedly taking an 11-year-old boy from his home without permission and threatening him with a loaded handgun. She was released from the Polk County Jail Saturday, June 5 after posting $11,000 bond.

The Lake Wales City Charter requires commissioners to fill vacancies within 30 days; the Aug. 3 meeting is the only one scheduled prior to the deadline. City Attorney Chuck Galloway has said if commissioners don't fill the vacancy they should call for a special election. But at a workshop meeting July 28 Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson said he opposes the special election. He said the expense is unnecessary and the commissioners should work until they can agree on a replacement. City Clerk Jennifer Nanek estimates a special election would cost about $6,000 for printing, postage and poll workers.

Prior to her nine years running the Chamber from 2005 to 2014, Wojcik, 72, was a principal planning consultant and executive director for Berwyn Development Corp. in Illinois and managed three other Chambers of Commerce for 12 years in Illinois and Georgia. She was a certified economic developer with a bachelor's degree in economic development management from DePaul University in Chicago. Her resume cites experience in public relations, marketing, strategic planning and organizational growth.

"As you will recall, I served the people of the City of Lake Wales in that capacity for four years and would be honored to do so again at this time," Wojcik wrote in an email to ask for consideration. "I see great work being done and believe that my service and my many of experience in business and community development would benefit the Commission and this growing city."


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