This election will define how we as a City will move forward, not only as pro/anti-growth or pro/anti-schools, but as pro/anti-neighbors.
In the past, no matter what your stance was on the issues there was always an underlying sense that in the end, we are all neighbors and neighbors look after each other-especially in a small town like ours. As the debate over our schools drug on some of that sense began to leave us and that was especially true with the last election. One side no longer saw neighbors, but enemies and began treating people as such. They defend their actions by saying public figures are fair game, and they spread false rumors of candidates having multiple extra-martial affairs. They did not care how those rumors (all untrue) affected the candidates’ families-families that are our neighbors. They spread rumors of Lakeland officials taking money under the table, to the point that they took these rumors to the State. These rumors also proved to be untrue, but they did not care of the impact it made on those officials-officials that are our neighbors. They dig into the finances of Commissioners, forcing them to reveal family problems that they should only have to deal with in private and these people do not care how it affects the lives of our Commissioners-again, our neighbors. They support a candidate that has a history of failing Lakeland as an elected official and their candidate cannot stand toe to toe on policy with other candidates so they dig for dirt, anything that they can find not to hurt someone politically, but to inflict as much harm personally as they can. To us, these actions are despicable.
We do not view these acts as despicable because they hurt the candidates we back politically. We despise these actions because this is not who we are as neighbors and this is not who we are as a city; as Lakeland. We should be above these childish actions. It is this sort of behavior that makes Lakeland a mockery in Shelby County and elsewhere. It draws shame to this community and erodes the very ideals that we hold dear. We are not talking about some presidential candidate that the vast majority of us will never meet. We are talking about people that live across the street from us, around the corner, that we see at the store, or our children or grandchildren share a classroom.
We, as a City, should be above these actions. Make no mistake, if our group wanted to go after candidates or even their supporters, we would have plenty of ammunition. Nobody on this Earth has led mistake-free, perfect lives. However, we feel that this is not who we should be and not what our local elections should be about. We have plenty of differences to debate, we do not need to bring private lives into the discussion. Christ teaches us that he who is without sin should cast the first stone and that is the bar to which the citizens of this city should subscribe.
There is a clear divide between the candidates and their supporters in this election. There is a path which drives us down into more division, more acrimony, less community. Then there is another path with different ideals, that truly looks out for the community in which we all live, that is proud of this city we call home. As you cast your vote, you must choose the path that you want this city to pursue. We hope and pray that the light and not the darkness wins the day.
Moving Lakeland Forward