Polk County identifies as one of the twenty counties in Florida that have adopted an official Charter for self-governance. Although operations are still under the broader paradigm of laws enforced by the Florida Constitution, Polk's Charter embraces certain unique elements. Polk County allows for the decentralization of power from the county government into municipals and subsequent special districts. Municipals have governance ordinances that super cede the county ordinances in the case of a legal conflict. Polk County effectively breaks down the structure into operational arms of government. The Board of County Commissioners makes up the legislative arm, made up of five County Commissioners who each represent a district (Charter 2018). Qualification for a representative seat, the law states that one must reside in the district they aspire to represent and only serve for a four-year time upon election by registered voters. Laws and legislation under the jurisdiction of a district are mandated to the County Commissioners who sit at County Seat.
County administration is primarily handled by the County Manager, regarded as the head of the executive arm. The Manager is appointed and serves under the mandate of the Board of County Commissioners (Charter 2018). He /She is assisted by directors of the department; whose appointments or dismissals are under the County Manager's scope of powers. Other county offices provided for under the Charter include those of the Sherriff, Election Supervisor, and Property Appraiser. These offices remain independent in their operations and functionality.
However, the relationship of work between the Board of County Commissioners and the county manager is questionable. Despite clear stipulations on the Office of the County Manager's independence, the due appointment by the Commission seems to create a conflict. It creates a situation where the chief administrator of the County has to work under the instructions of the Commissioners, and an electoral approach would seemingly create a better structural system.
District Four Representation
Davenport city is mapped under District 4 of Port County. Martha Santiago effectively took over the Office of the County Commissioner after the November 2018 elections (Polk County). Born in New York, Santiago is a mother of two, currently residing in Winter Haven. Her leadership abilities can be attributed to her robust educational background. She is a doctorate holder from the University of South Florida. Santiago completed her masters and undergraduate studies from Florida International University and the University of Puerto Rico. Fundamentals of her manifesto revolved around infrastructural development and the safety of the community members.
Martha Santiago is the face of a campaign against racial discrimination and social profiling. Being the first Hispanic to be elected into the Board of Commissioners (Chambliss, 2018), Santiago advocates for the acceptance of different races in governance where people are elected based on competency. She represents a dynamic environment where there is acceptance of diversity, and an integrated social construct community is encouraged. Furthermore, the County Commissioner is a keen education reformist being a salient name in the education sector of Pork County. Her efforts to promote sound educational reforms were recognized and installed as the Provost of Pork State College, Winter Haven campus. Before the achievement mentioned, she was the principal of Boone Middle School.
Pork County Constitutional Officers
Stacy Butterfield holds the Office of the County Clerk. A Certified Public Accountant, she assumed Office in 2012 and was reelected in 2016, having prior served as an administrator in the Clerk's Office. Butterfield is an alumnus of Florida Southern College and a holder of a business administration master's degree. Her role in community service and development is manifested in activities she undertook since childhood in her hometown, where she was an active girl scout member (Butterfield). To date, she actively participates in domestic violence awareness campaigns and leadership programs.
Lori Edwards has been the County's Supervisor of Elections since 2000. The Election Supervisor formerly represented the eastern Pork County in the legislature (Polk Elections). For her higher education, she attended Warner University and earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Aside from her administrative role, Edwards takes up the mandate of ensuring civic education by students and community members.
Sheriff Grady Judd's rise has been an ultimately progressive journey, dated back to 1972, where he was deployed as a dispatcher to 2004 when he was installed as Polk County's Sheriff. The career of Sherriff Judd is primarily rooted in his educational background from Rollin's College, FBI National Academy, and the Senior Management Institute for Police (Polk Sherriff). Community development and children protection are of prime importance to the County's Police chief. His efforts in promoting children's safety were recognized as he became the recipient of the Online Child Protection Award in 2013.
The Office of the County Property Appraiser is occupied by Marsha Faux, who boasts of vast experience in the financial industry. An alumnus of Florida Southern College, she is a Certified Senior Appraiser holding the County's seat since the election in 2000 (Palmer 2008). Faux diligently works to evaluate and price a property and believes it should be integrity approached affair. Faux's Office collaboratively works with the Office of the tax collector that is held by Joe Tedder.
Provision of County Services
Polk County delivers essential services to the community members through specialized agencies and departments under the County Manager. The Office of the Public Defender provides legal representation and services for members of the society who cannot access the services due to financial constraints. Rehabilitation and care for reformists of negative social habits such as crime or drug over-indulgence are catered for by the Polk County Probation Agency (Homeless Coalition of Polk County). Services such as health and transport are not devolved and are under departments managed by the larger Florida Government.
Homeless Coalition of Polk County. (n.d.). Government Agencies. Retrieved from http://www.polkhomeless.org/index.php/organization-directory?sid=122:Government-Agencies
Polk County Charter. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.polk-county.net/docs/default-source/polk-charter/polk-county-charter.pdf?sfvrsn=40ec583_4Butterfield S. (n.d.). Meet Clerk Stacy M. Butterfield, CPA. Retrieved from https://www.stacy-butterfield.com/about
Palmer T. (2008). Incumbent Marsha Faux Cites Experience in Re-election Bid - News - The Ledger - Lakeland, FL. Retrieved from https://www.theledger.com/article/LK/20080626/News/608110911/LL/
Polk Elections. (n.d.). Polk County Supervisor of Elections > About > Meet the Staff > Lori's Bio. Retrieved from https://www.polkelections.com/About/Meet-the-Staff/Loris-Bio
Polk Sherriff. (n.d.). Sheriff Grady Judd | Polk County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved from https://www.polksheriff.org/about/sheriff-grady-judd
Chambliss, J. (2018). Martha Santiago sworn in as Polk's first Hispanic county commissioner – News - The Ledger - Lakeland, FL. Retrieved from https://www.theledger.com/news/20181120/martha-santiago-sworn-in-as-polks-first-hispanic-county-commissioner
Polk County. (n.d.). Polk County Commissioner District 4. Retrieved from https://www.polk-county.net/boards-and-committees/commissioners/district-4
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