Lakeland city board elects new commissioner


From left, Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker administers the oath of office for new city Commissioner Matt Wright, with help from Matt's wife, Missy. Photo by Carolyn Bahm

The Lakeland Board of Commissioners elected former school board member Matt Wright on Thursday night to fill a seat left open by Sherri Gallick, who is moving out of town.

In his biography, Wright described a broad background of activism in his community, his faith and Lakeland’s educational system.

He is a graduate of Evangelical Christian School (ECS) in Memphis and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. He is a 14-year resident of Lakeland. He and his wife, Missy, have been married for 20 years and have three children, who all attend Lakeland Elementary School. The family also attends Faith Baptist Church, where he’s involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry. He also served as a chaplain at Douglass High School for the previous six years. He also served on a finance committee, where he helped to oversee a $4.5 million budget.

Professionally, he worked at Servicemasters headquarters in Memphis for 10 years as a senior business consultant and a Six Sigma Black Belt (someone who has attained an advanced set of specific techniques and tools for process improvement). He founded his own business, MarketVex Marketing Solutions, a Lakeland firm that specializes in online marketing.

He was a leader of the movement to found a public school district in Lakeland and served on its first school board. There, he also represented the board for the Tennessee Legislative Network (an establishment of the Tennessee School Boards Association) and lobbied representatives and senators on behalf of Lakeland’s schools. As a school board member, he also helped with the purchase of land for the school district’s new middle school and eventual high school.

Although he chose not to run again, he has served on the city’s Economic Development Commission for the past 15 months and also takes pride in his efforts to create Lakeland’s cheerleading and football program. Wright has also coached youth football and basketball in Lakeland.

When questioned about how to balance keeping taxes low while providing expanded city services, Wright said that’s a challenge for the city, and he keeps long-term goals in mind when making such decisions. “I think we would all agree that we cannot have an increase in taxes, so we would really have to determine what’s the best way to spend those tax dollars.”

He believes the city needs to focus on expanding sales tax revenue, rather than more property taxes, for future Lakeland growth.
Wright also named three goals he'd like to achieve during his term: Completion of the Lake District development, an enhanced marketing and branding campaign for the city, and strong support for the city's youth athletic program.

He was one of two candidates who applied for the city board’s role. The mayor also praised the skills, experience and civic-mindedness of the second candidate, Sarah Edwards, and invited her to serve the city in another role.

“We’re always looking for good people to get involved and see the city grow,” said Mayor Wyatt Bunker.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138,, or