After nearly 13 years on the Lakeland City Commission, Phillip Walker’s term is coming to a close this week. The longest-standing member of the commission tendered his resignation — effective Monday, Nov. 7 — this summer. Keep reading for our questions for Commissioner Walker.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the Florida League of Cities and how it translates to your work here?
A: Florida League of Cities is for all local elected officials, mayors, city commissioners, and council people. We work with local legislators in Lakeland and Polk County, as well as all of the state, to deal with issues or challenges that we see. Lakeland is not Miami. Even though we’re pretty much a “big boy” now, as we call ourselves on the I-4 corridor, we’re not a Jacksonville.
Q: As commissioner, you served on multiple committees. How did you balance having so many roles?
A: It’s important to know that you have the willingness, but you have to also have the time. It was only by the grace of God that He allowed me to be strengthened and have the tenacity and the “oomph” to get up do what I did.
Q: If you could identify a top priority for Lakeland in the next 10 years, what would it be?
A: Lakeland is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s important that my other colleagues look at how we can best handle the growth that we’re experiencing. I believe growth management is important — affordable housing, public safety, and on top of all that, thinking of how we can fiscally manage our operation. We want businesses to come and be a part of our growth, so economic development is another critical component.
Q: As the longest-tenured member of the Commission, what would you share with our readers?
A: One of the pillars of Lakeland city government is diversity. It is making sure we’re an inclusive community. If you want to help the community, you have to make sure people who are like all of us are not just at the table, but in leadership as well.
Q: What’s next for you when your term on the commission ends this November?
A: I plan to stay involved. I’ll take time to digest and reflect, but I think I still have something in me. But, I want to make sure wherever I land, the Lord directs. Because I know if he does it and I’m willing to hear him say “Phillip, this is where you should be,” then I know it’ll be a successful situation.