It was a veritable who’s who among Polk County Republican movers and shakers in attendance Monday, Feb. 24 at the Rocking H Ranch in Lakeland. They were among family, friends, supporters and well-wishers who came out to the rally and barbecue dinner in support of Melony Bell, who announced she would be seeking a second consecutive term as Polk County Commissioner for District 2, which covers the southern half of the county; in land mass, it is nearly half the county.
Following a barbecue dinner catered by Jimbo’s Pit BBQ, Bell was introduced by Ben Speight, to the accompaniment of the Journey song, “Just a Small Town Girl.”
“We’ve come tonight to kick off the campaign for Melony Bell,” said Speight. “She’s interested to see this county grow.”
In her comments, Bell acknowledged Speight had been her agriculture teacher when she was a student at Fort Meade Middle-High School. She introduced individual guests, including Jim Guth, the current head of the Polk County Republican Party, fellow commissioners R. Todd Dantzler and George Lindsey, Clerk of the Courts and County Comptroller Stacy Butterfield, as well as her campaign committee and volunteers. She saved her last thank yous for her daughter and finally, her husband, Robbie Bell.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my husband holding down the fort at home,” she said. With that she announced she would first speak on how far the county has progressed since she became a commissioner, and her role in particular. “If you don’t toot your own horn, no one else will do it for you.”
Among the achievements arrived at the past four years in which Bell has been on the BOCC, is how the budget has been trimmed by more than $40 million and with no drop in service. Another has been the excellent bond rating the county enjoys.
She announced she was proud of one particular achievement. In 2012, she shepherded the effort to restore the allocation of a portion of the tourist tax for promotion of arts and cultural events that attract overnight visitors.
Bell boiled it down to one thing of all that has been accomplished as she summarized her reason for seeking a second term.
“If I can change lives, that’s been the most important thing since I became commissioner,” she said. For that, she received a standing ovation.
About Melony Bell
According to the Polk County Board of County Commissioner website, Bell was elected to the board in November 2010. Since entering office, Commissioner Bell has been a champion for the arts, economic development, education and youth outreach.
In 2012, she shepherded the effort to restore the allocation of a portion of the tourist tax for promotion of arts and cultural events that attract overnight visitors. In addition to the arts, Commissioner Bell is committed to the growth and development of Polk County and is also passionate about maintaining the small-town character that defines Polk. She was chosen by her peers to serve as the 2012-13 board chairman after serving as vice chair in 2011-12.
Prior to serving on the board, Commissioner Bell served as Fort Meade mayor for three terms and as a Fort Meade city commissioner for 14 years. She is also a graduate of Bartow Leadership, Fort Meade Leadership and Polk Leadership.
• Southeastern University, Business/prof. Leadership, B.S.
• South Florida State College, Communications, A.A.