It wasn't the money
Some observers are pointing to the $60,000 cash infusion into Chad Mcleod’s campaign as the deciding factor in his victory over Carole Philipson in the 2019 City Commission election.
And some raise the alarm that such an investment might translate into preferential treatment for the citizens and businesses associated with the Lakeland First political action committee that spent that $60,000 on advertising and direct mail in support of Mcleod.
Maybe. Maybe not.
In a comprehensive review and analysis of the campaigns, the election, and the outcome, LkldNow’s Allison Guinn reported that -
The five Lakeland First-endorsed officials said they understood the potential public perception. The first four endorsees said they’ve never been leaned on to make a vote one way or another.
In time, they all said separately, they hope their votes and their positions from the commission chamber makes their independence clear.
“Their support did not come with any strings,” (Commissioner Sara) McCarley said. “Their support was, ‘We trust you; we know we’re probably not going to agree on everything.’ You want to pick the person who most aligns with you, but it’s not going to be 100 percent.”
So, if we “take the money out of politics”, as so many cynics see as the "solution", what would happen? Who would it impact the most?
Publicists. Ad agencies. Printers. Graphic designers. The post office. Social media.
Citizens get “the message”, but candidates do not get the money.
Advertising wins, even when its candidates lose.
Guinn also reported - Infuriating for reporters and policy wonks, Lakeland’s most successful political campaigns don’t ever seem to be about anything. Winning candidates in recent years have instead focused on biography and presented a few uncontroversial positions as a platform: low taxes, great services and clean streets.
So here we are, again, getting ready for one of the most important free elections in history and while we may be eager to choose the best person for the job, we will not. Again. We will choose the best ad campaign. We will be told what we want to hear and we will succumb. Again.
Unless we don’t.
We must begin to turn the ship of state - at every level of our governments - back onto a course that carries all citizens toward a promising future of health, safety, and opportunity.
Stop listening. Start speaking. Insist on being heard.
Use the most powerful communication tools ever developed to knock on the doors of the establishment and ask it for what we need. Tell it what we need. And knock on the doors of your neighbors and friends and urge them to do the same.
No amount of money or advertising can defeat an informed citizenship.
Guinn also reported - When asked whether any candidate not endorsed by Lakeland First has a chance, most contended that money was important, but it wasn’t everything; they pointed to 2017’s unsuccessful $1 million campaign, financed almost entirely by developer Gregory Fancelli and opposed by Lakeland First, to change Lakeland’s form of government to an “executive mayor” form.
Ultimately, it comes down to voters, they said. Otherwise, Lakeland would have a strong mayor.
That’s our cue! Now get busy.
Contact the City of Lakeland’s Commission and management here