Cunningham faces off against incumbent Bunker for Lakeland mayor

Bunker vs. Cunningham in race for mayor

LAKELAND, TN (WMC) - In a city of more than 12,000 people, a contentious mayoral race is brewing.

Incumbent Wyatt Bunker faces Mike Cunningham in the race for mayor of Lakeland.

Many people see them as the representation of the issuing taking over the city – whether or not to build a high school.

“Absolutely, and you'd be fooling yourself if you didn't because it's such a passion for some folks who are on the fringes,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said he's in the middle on the issue.

“In the fact that I know we are going to need a high school,” Cunningham said. “I just don't believe tomorrow is the right answer.”

Right now, Lakeland has its own elementary school and middle school, but students go to Arlington High School.

Last year $60 million in bonds were approved, but residents filed a lawsuit saying it was illegal. The case was dismissed this spring.

Mayor Wyatt Bunker wants the high school built as soon as possible.

“If the election turns out in our favor we've been very clear on where we stand,” Bunker said. “If we're elected we'll carry out our platform. Our platform is to build the school.”

Cunningham said a contract with Arlington High School calls for a certain number of students before it can be broken, which hasn't been reached. He also believes it's just not fiscally responsible for the city.

Bunker thinks it's the only way for growth in the city.

“It's a simple method,” Bunker said. “It's simple, it's proven. High quality schools lead to high quality growth.”

Law enforcement has even been involved in this contentious race.

Bunker said some political signs were stolen from a yard, and it was caught on camera.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office says it's investigating the claims.

Both Bunker and Cunningham agree that they hope this election will unite the City of Lakeland.

Copyright 2018 WMC. All rights reserved.