VALDOSTA — Three candidates have qualified for the April 3 Lake Park City Council election.
The non-partisan election will fill the two at-large seats vacated by former council members Eric Schindler and Paul Mulkey who resigned in early February.
On Feb. 29, Southern Circuit Judge Harry J. Altman ruled the election could be held in April instead of on July 31.
Former Lake Park Police Chief Bert Rutland, Department of Family & Children Services employee Shauneen Moss, and former Lake Park City Council member David Whitfield are candidates.
A relative newcomer to politics, Moss has worked with DFCS for more than 24 years and said she wanted to “see City Council move forward in a positive and proactive direction.”
Working with families and staff members across an 18-county area, she has served on three state-level committees to develop and implement family independent programs and has also served on several leadership programs charged with monitoring child-welfare contracts.
“I want to go forward with the real issues; that’s what’s important for me and for the City of Lake Park,” she said. “I think in light of the incidents and things that have happened in the last three months more attention has been brought to City Council and is giving citizens reason to get involved and I believe that any increase of citizen involvement in the decision-making process is a good thing.”
Moss stated that she would work to see policies and procedures for city employees “clearly defined and understood.” She also stated she would like to “start including citizens in the solutions that the council discusses.”
She said she “does not have a deep personal relationship” with any of the current council members or mayor. She also stated that she has a professional relationship with Mayor Ben Futch because she purchased a house in an area being developed by him.
Although Rutland said he has not served on any government board or organization, he will “serve with an open mind” if elected.
He served the Lake Park Police Department for 28 years until council members Sandi Sherrill, Russell Lane and Mayor Futch decided not to re-appoint Rutland at the Jan. 3 regular council meeting.
“I have enough knowledge and experience working with the city to be an asset,” Rutland said. “I know when something’s not right and I will be voicing my opinion on those issues.”
After a lifetime of residency in Lake Park, Rutland said he knows most citizens and will serve as a “voice of the poor people.”
He hopes to be able to cooperate with the current council and mayor, but promised that he would do what was “right for the city.”
“I’m not going to be a rubber-stamp for Mr. Futch like his other two council members were,” said Rutland, referring to the remaining council members. “They do not have anybody in there that is qualified or experienced in running a city. I just want to keep the people honest in City Hall.”
After The Times made repeated attempts for a comment, Whitfield said he is not interested in making a comment to The Times.
Moss can be reached by telephone (229) 559-6838; and Rutland can be reached at (229) 269-2591.
Moss requested that interested citizens wait until after 6 p.m. or on weekends to ask questions about the campaign.
Early voters can visit the Lowndes County Board of Elections until April 3 when voting will be held at the Lake Park Civic Center, 123 North Essa St.
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