Communication Builds Our Community

Pastor Hilligoss Seeks Temporary Appointment to City Commission

Pastor Jack Hilligoss has added his name to the list of people interested in filling the city commission vacancy created by the suspension of newly elected Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald. Commissioners will consider making an appointment at their Aug. 3 meeting.

Hilligoss, 55, is senior pastor of HighPoint Church and has lived in Lake Wales since 1997. He is a 1992 graduate of Warner Southern College.

In his email asking to be considered Hilligoss pointed out that all three of his children attended and graduated from Lake Wales Charter Schools and that his church congregation has been very involved with local schools and community service projects over the years.

"I have served on various boards in the city throughout those years as well as working through personal relationships on to activate innovation in the downtown area," said Hilligoss, who lives in the Dinner Lake development off Chalet Suzanne Road. "I live in a rapidly growing part of our city and county and want to help us plan for and incorporate that growth well.

"I think Lake Wales is a great place with incredible potential. I believe our city is full of people who genuinely care about one another when we focus on one another and the good of our city and refuse to allow outside influences to 'bleed in' to our concern for each other and our city."

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.


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