ZEPHYRHILLS — After six years in office, City Council member Jodi Wilkeson is facing a challenge in the April 8 city election from retired school administrator and football coach Alan Knight.
Wilkeson, 53, an architect and owner of the firm WDA Design Group, said her institutional knowledge will be a continued asset to the city as it develops into a hub for commerce. She said it will take experience on council to manage the growth that comes with major corporations looking to develop in Zephyrhills.
"We're sort of getting to critical mass," she said of growing development. "Very shortly, we are going to have the rooftops to attract those types of businesses."
Wilkeson's platform not only focuses on economic issues but social as well, with her desire to provide more services to the homeless in the community.
"If we don't address it, it's going to be addressed for us," she said.
Knight, 68, a lifelong resident who at one time served as principal and football coach at Zephyrhills High School, agreed that major development is on the way and needs to be managed. He also wants the city to construct a top-notch community park.
"I want it to stay that small-town atmosphere," he said. "We're growing by leaps and bounds and that growth and development has got to be controlled."
Knight said he is running to bring a fresh perspective. During his time as an administrator, Knight said he always appreciated the new teachers who would come in hungry to present new ideas.
"I want to be the new teacher. I want to bring in the fresh ideas," he said.
Knight and his wife, Karen, have two children and six grandchildren. (One of their sons is Tampa Bay Times sports reporter Joey Knight.)
Gene Whitfield, who with his wife owns and operates Whitfield Funeral Home and Cremation Services, will go in unopposed as mayor. Incumbent council member Kenneth Burgess also did not draw an opponent for Seat 4 and will begin another term.