POLK COUNTY – Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the appointment of Rick Wilson to the Polk County Commission Oct. 1 following the resignation of Melony Bell.

After winning his Aug. 28 primary election race against Kat Gates-Skipper, County Commissioner Wilson would have been sworn into office sometime in November because there was no Democrat candidate facing him in the general election. Wilson was sworn in early because Bell said she asked the governor to resign Oct. 1 so that she could focus on her campaign for state representative district 56 race against fellow Republican Jeff Mann.

Like Bell, Commission Chair Todd Dantzler is also terming out of office after eight years. His replacement will either be Democrat Karen Cooper Welzel or Republican Martha Santiago depending on who wins in the general election. Like Bell, either Cooper Welzel or Santiago will be the only woman on the commission after the November election. For the moment, there are four Republican men serving on the commission.

Commissioner Wilson was sworn in Oct. 2 by Polk County Clerk of Courts Criminal Division Director Lyle Bulman surrounded by family at the onset of a regular county commission meeting.

“It’s good to be here,” Commissioner Wilson said at the end of the county commission meeting. “It’s been an interesting road getting here but I look forward to working with everybody on this commission.”

Following the swearing-in ceremony, county commissioners and Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing Director Mark Jackson spoke thanks to Bell for her eight years of service on the county commission, as did the commissioners.

“It’s been a long eight years but a short eight years,” Bell said after being given a plaque and other gifts. “I love y'all, it’s been a great experience.”

The deadline to register to vote has passed. This week around 80K vote by mail ballots are being mailed out to county residents. The deadline to turn those in is 7 p.m. on election day Nov. 6.

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