Former Commissioner's Wife Now Wants Appointment to His Seat
Last updated 7/31/2021 at 9:07am
The wife of former Lake Wales City Commissioner Pete Perez has indicated her interest in filling his old seat, which is vacant now due to the suspension of newly elected Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald. He served as a commissioner from 2015-2017.
Jacqueline Perez, 79, served as president of the Social Committee at Lake Ashton, a two-year term where she coordinated monthly social events which she said resulted in positive revenue for the group.
Prior to retiring she served as a data specialist for the Palm Beach County School District, overseeing scheduling for state funding allotments for numerous schools. During her eight years at IBM she worked as a clerk and then financial analyst, where she was recognized with an IBM Employee Award
She also worked as an office manager and doctor's assistant, handling scheduling, billing, insurance claims, compensation claims and bookkeeping.
"I wanted to work part time to have more time raising my children so I proposed to train another person by job sharing the full-time position so that we could work part time and share the responsibilities. This was innovative at the time," Perez said in her email requesting consideration. "Regret not writing a book at the time."
Perez attended Pima County Community College in Tucson, AZ and Palm Beach Community College in West Palm Beach. She also graduated from St. Joseph's School of Practical Nursing in Yonkers, NY and was employed by St. Joseph's and St. Luke's Hospital as a Licensed Practical Nurse.
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.
In addition to Perez, new applicants to be considered at the Aug. 3 city commission meeting include Betty Wojcik, a former city commissioner who ran the local chamber of commerce for nine years, and Pastor Jack Hilligoss of HighPoint Church.
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.