LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – People hoping for a congressional district representing all of Polk County only had a short-lived victory.
Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed that map drawn by the legislature.
The new map drawn by the governor’s office, which passed both chambers of the legislature on Thursday, cuts Polk County into four congressional districts.
“To step out publicly and say ‘I want you to use my map.’ Well, you shouldn’t have a map,” said Terry Coney, president of the Lakeland branch of the NAACP.
There are currently three elected officials in Washington representing parts of Polk County.
Polk County is one of the nation’s fastest growing counties, with a population nearing 800,000.
The governor’s map also splits Lakeland into three districts that converge at US 98 North and Marcum Road: District 11, District 15 and District 18.
“The citizens of Lakeland should be calling their representatives and say ‘Hey, what are you doing?'” said Coney. “I think it dilutes the political representation of Lakeland and Polk County.”
Rep. Scott Franklin, a Republican, was elected to represent the 15th district in 2020.
“I feel like I just got here. I’ve only been on the job 15 months and I’m looking to run again,” he said.
The former Lakeland city commissioner has been watching the redistricting saga closely.
“As a Lakelander, I’m not that excited that Lakeland’s being divided into three districts and we’ll have four representing Polk County,” said Rep. Franklin.
The congressman expects to run for a second term in Congress in the new district 18, which stretches from North Lakeland to Hendry County.
“I’ll also look to be driving all the way down to south of Lake Okeechobee. I think someone had told me it’s a 180-mile district so I’ll be putting in a lot more windshield time,” said Rep. Franklin.
County commissioner George Lindsey said he also prefers one district that covers the entire county.
“Then we’ve got one voice, one office to deal with,” he said. “Whatever it shakes out to be, we’ll make the best of it and if we wind up having representation from both parties, that’s probably not a bad thing.”