LAKE WALES – On the day before his 70th birthday, Mayor Eugene Fultz announced that he will not be running for reelection in 2022.
During a Lake Wales City Commission meeting Feb. 4, City Clerk Jennifer Nanek was making some announcements in reference to the upcoming municipal election on April 7. Fultz remarked that he was glad that he was not up for reelection again.
“I think I'm ready to call it quits,” Fultz said. “I've given my reasonable service and at the end of nine years, I feel as though I am going to term limit myself.”
Fultz proceeded to share some advice to those considering serving the community in the future.
“It's not as easy as it looks sometimes,” Fultz said. “It can get to be pretty hard sometimes.”
Trying to find middle ground between opposing citizen opinions isn't easy, he continued.
“You can get your feelings hurt,” Fultz said. “You can get called names. You can be pushed to the side because of it, but you have to be dedicated to sit in that seat and do your very best to give your citizens the very best.”
The mayor also expressed gratitude to Lake Wales residents who volunteered to be on city boards of late. A few weeks ago, city staff recommended that the commission consider hiring a magistrate to take on certain code enforcement cases, cases which had previously been handled by a citizen code enforcement board with multiple vacancies.
“When they started talking about getting rid of the citizens on the boards, that was a ‘no-no,’ so now we are beginning to see citizens stepping up,” Fultz said.
Some of those residents who have stepped up include former Frostproof Mayor Rodney Cannon, who recently moved with his family to Lake Wales and was approved to become a new member of the Lake Wales Code Enforcement Board through 2022. Bruce Austell was also approved to be on the board. Lawrence Bossarte was nominated by the mayor and approved by the commissioners to fill a seat on the Historic District Regulatory Board. Carlos Unzueta was affirmed as a new trustee for the Lake Wales Police Department Retirement System Board of Trustees.
There are still vacancies on the Board of Zoning Adjustment and Appeals, the Code Enforcement Board, the Citizens Advisory Board, the Historic District Regulatory Board, the Recreation Board and the Fire Pension board, Lake Wales staff said.
Fultz also shared two Ridge League of Cities action plans, one in support of building a high-speed rail stop near the intersection of U.S. Highway 27 and Interstate 4, and the other a plan to try and ban large trucks from using the left lane on U.S. Highway 27 along the ridge.