Battle over Lakeland Confederate monument: Who should decide?

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – A new plan could keep a controversial Confederate memorial in Lakeland.

Current commissioners will soon vote on it, but that’s bringing about a new controversy.

In January, several new commissioners will be seated, and they want a say.

“We believe that we’ve done our vetting, we’ve listened to our citizens, and it’s incumbent upon us, our responsibility, to go ahead and make the decision,” Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs said.

Lakeland City Commissioners will vote on a resolution to keep the Confederate Monument in Munn Park and add others around it.

But, with several city commission seats up for grabs, they could decide the issue differently.

Candidates that WFLA spoke with questioned the timing.

“I think it is a wrong move. They should have postponed it until the new commissioners came in,” Lakeland City Commission candidate Kathy Smith Barsotti said.

“I think the new commissioners should have a say on it, but I think it’s up to the people. I think we should have a forum let the people decide what we’re going to do with the monument,” Lakeland City Commission candidate Jorge Fronseca said.

Mayor Howard Wiggs said there is no hidden agenda.

“Every one of us have been on the commission, and have been seasoned in this position. We’ve heard from a lot more folks than they have,” he said, adding that it comes down to what the people of Lakeland want. “I don’t think the decision is a political decision at all. When you look at every poll, every one of them is 70 percent or better, people that want the monument to stay.”

Lakeland City Commissioners will vote on a resolution to keep the monument and add additional memorials around it during their December 4 meeting. The meeting is open to the public.

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