Lakeland mayoral candidates' battle lines clear cut - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Lakeland mayoral candidates' battle lines clear cut

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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LAKELAND, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Economic development is the hot-button issue driving interest in the Lakeland mayoral race.

Challengers Wyatt Bunker and Jim Bomprezzi have hammered away at incumbent Scott Carmichael for what they both allege is his administration's failure to lure more businesses to the community of 13,000.

They are three candidates who've seldom tasted defeat at the polls on election day. One a former county school board member and two-term Shelby county commissioner, another a former mayor of Lakeland. The third is a three-time mayoral winner in the community - which is probably why the battle lines in this all-star political race are quite clear cut.

"Let Lakeland be the envy of Shelby County like it was years ago," said Bomprezzi, former mayor. "The only city in West Tennessee without a tax."

"Now is not really the time to change direction and put in new leadership," said Mayor Carmichael. "We need to stay the course and get a lot of these things finished and put together."

"The most important issue is economic development," said Bunker, mayoral candidate. "The incumbents have been standoffish with economic development for over a decade."

As it sets sail toward the uncertainties of creating their own school system, stabilizing the population growth and with their first city tax burden in history, Lakeland voters know today's S mayoral choice might be their most important political decision to date.

At St. Paul's Church, County Commissioner Bunker brought his grassroots campaign style and forward sounding message to those outside a polling place. Bunker sounded the need to adopt to pro-growth attitude toward business.

"We have nowhere to shop, we have nowhere to eat," he said. "People, when they take their weekly grocery money to the store it's either in Memphis, Bartlett or Arlington. Our school consultant recommended 15-cents go to schools. They passed an 85-cent property tax because we have no business out here to bring in sales tax. Our sales tax six years ago was a $1.5 dollars. Today it's $500,000 and going down."

Admittedly having spent just over $450 on his campaign, former mayor Bomprezzi echoed the same message at the 4,100 doors he says he put his flyers on. He, like Bunker, has no love for taxes.

"We absolutely don't need all this tax and all that they've imposed on us," he said. "We can abolish that."

After 16 years in the office and seeking a fourth term, Carmichael stressed an experience counts theme, based on a patient approach to governing.

"You have to balance everything with every business development, along with what do the citizens of Lakeland really want at this moment in time," Mayor Carmichael said. "What do we need to keep moving forward and progressing as a city?"

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