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Former NASCAR driver joins the race for Polk County Commission

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A Bartow native who used to race cars in NASCAR has filed to run for a Polk County Commission seat.

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Rick Wilson, 64, will face Kat Gates-Skipper, 59, of Lake Wales, in the August 2018 Republican primary for the District 2 seat.

The seat is held by Melony Bell of Fort Meade. Bell, who faces term limits in 2018 as a county commissioner, has filed to run for the Florida House District 56 seat. The current holder of that seat, Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

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Wilson retired from racing in 1997 after 21 years. He said he won several races in the Busch Series and was well known in racing circles for a second-place finish to Bill Elliott in the Pepsi Firecracker 400 in 1988.

He’s a lifelong Bartow resident who works in the construction business at C. Wilson Equipment Co. He also owns a gym in Bartow, a 1,000-acre ranch and has worked in agriculture.

“I really don’t have any big issues with the county right now,” Wilson said. “The county is doing great and I want to be able to help it more.”

He said growth will be a concern in the coming the years along with water management.

“I’d like to be able to help Polk County and the people in it,” Wilson said.

The commission seat 2 race will be decided at the GOP primary unless the winner has an opponent in the Nov. 6, 2018, general election. So far, no Democrat or other candidate has joined the race.

Gates-Skipper, who was one of the 29 presidential electors in Florida who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump in 2016, has raised $1,400. Wilson, who filed to run earlier this month, has not raised any money yet.

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