By Carl Helton, Lakeland Currents
With unofficial returns posted, Wesley Wright beat Maurice Denbow by an eight-vote margin
in the race to fill a vacancy on the Lakeland board of commissioners during a special election today (5.25.17).
Today’s race shows 898 of 8,935 registered voters cast ballots in Lakeland today and during two weeks of early voting. The vote should be certified June 6, according to Linda Phillips, Administrator of Elections for the Shelby County Election Commission. There were no provisional ballots cast today. There was one write-in vote.
Maurice Denbow – 372
Billy Rodgers – 145
Wesley Wright – 380
The City charter says the candidate receiving the highest number of votes is declared elected, once the results are certified by the SCEC. The newest commissioner will be sworn in at the June 1 work session, according to Jim Atkinson, Lakeland city manager.
Mr. Wright will fill the vacant seat created by the resignation of Michele Dial and serve until 2020 when the election will be the first Monday in November. Vice Mayor Josh Roman’s term also expires at that time.
Mayor Wyatt Bunker, Commissioners Clark Plunk and Matt Wright all serve until 2018 when the election will be the first Monday in November.
The City charter requires a special election for a second vacancy on the Board of Commissioners. Matt Wright was appointed in February to replace Sherri Gallick who moved out of town.
Ms. Phillips said the cost of the election was budgeted at $40,000 but she expects it to be closer to $ 25,000. Precise figures will be available mid-June.
Mr. Wright is a Memphis native who grew up in Midtown. He attended the University of Tennessee and earned a BA in history, followed by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with an MA in Philosophy and sometime later an MA in Education from Union University.
He was a history and geography teacher in the former Memphis School System. And he started a landscaping enterprise in 2005 and moved to Lakeland in 2013. Mr. Wright started a Nextdoor.com for Plantation Hills. He later was selected as liaison for Lakeland Nextdoor.
Mr. Wright started writing articles and managing the Facebook and Twitter accounts for what we now know as Lakeland Currents. He has advised on fixing the median on Canada Road, managing the landscape at Lakeland Elementary, as well as proposing a landscape overhaul for City Hall.
He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Board and was named Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year Award in 2014.
Mr. Wright sponsored the PTA Fundraiser every spring and the Tour de Lakeland as well as organizing such events as the Lakeland Yard Sale. He and his wife Joyce have two children including a daughter at Lakeland Elementary School.