Lutz Guv’na hopefuls clash in fun-filled debate

This past Saturday, three residents went to the Old Lutz School and lied to their neighbors.

One pledged to ban homework for all children.

Another promised to build a giant rainbow.

A third guaranteed everyone beautiful waterfront property.

From left, Cheryl Ayers, KarenSue Molis and Jennifer Rankin faced some silly questions at the Lutz Guv'na debate May 16, and they responded with equally silly answers. (Michael Murillo/Staff Photo)

From left, Cheryl Ayers, KarenSue Molis and Jennifer Rankin faced some silly questions at the Lutz Guv’na debate May 16, and they responded with equally silly answers.
(Michael Murillo/Staff Photo)

Then they tried to hit everyone up for money. And, they’re going to keep doing it all the way up until July 4.

It sounds like a shameless way to treat your neighbors, but that’s what Lutz expects out of their Guv’na candidates.

Those wanting the ceremonial title must prove they’re silly enough to deserve it. And the winner must raise the most money, which goes to local organizations after a new Guv’na is declared.

So, Jennifer Rankin, KarenSue Molis and Cheryl Ayers gathered at the school on May 16 to answer questions, show off unusual talents and prove they have what it takes to claim the coveted winner’s sash.

Their performances impressed the current Guv’na.

“They were good. They were funny. This is something that you don’t take too seriously,” said Dr. Cindy Perkins, who won a close race last year by raising just a little bit more than the other candidates. Together, last year’s candidates raised about $9,000, which went to around 20 different groups.

Perkins has fulfilled her Guv’na duties, which included activities like being a judge at a fair, throwing out a first pitch at a softball game and attending a Boys Scouts’ event.

As outgoing Guv’na, she was able to enjoy the festivities on the other side of the table, and watch the candidates get put through their paces.

The candidates faced such questions as what to do if there’s an alligator infestation (eat them) and how to avoid an invasion from Russia (a giant dome should keep them out).

Then things got a little strange.

Ayers started a conga line while wearing a toilet seat around her neck. The candidates took part in a golf competition where they tried to aim large balls at targets (really toilet seats again). Rankin won, but there was some cheating involved from emcee Paul Vahue. All three put on some crazy costumes in a quick-change competition. And Molis won an award for Biggest Liar at the debate.

While it was a light-hearted event, there was time for a more serious moment. Ayers showed off her singing talent by performing “The Star Spangled Banner,” and everyone spontaneously stood to sing along with her.

Throw in some food and conversation, and it was a complete event for the candidates, their family and other attendees. That included some former Guv’nas, who came by to show support and help out with the event.

Karin D’Amico, who ran two Guv’na campaigns herself and won the sash in 2012, got to experience a debate for the first time.

“Both of my years I did not get to attend,” she said. “It’s very interesting.” As a member of the GFWC Lutz-Land O’Lakes Woman’s Club, D’Amico supports their candidate, Molis. The group has been supporting Guv’na hopefuls for years, and she believes they have another winner this time around.

The key, D’Amico said, is to schedule a lot of events and let people have so much fun that they start donating to the cause.

“People get to having a good time, and they just give you money,” she said.

Suzin Carr, the only two-time Guv’na, agrees. When it comes to the race, it’s all about raising money for good causes.

“Just keep begging for money,” she advised the candidates. “Keep begging and spreading the word. When I ran, I wore a sign on my back everywhere I went to get people to give me money, and it worked.”

Whichever candidate ends up begging enough to put them over the top, Saturday was a day of embracing absurdity and enjoying the eccentric qualities of the Guv’na race. As someone who’s won the sash twice, Carr knew what she was seeing.

She summed up the annual event this way: “Totally tacky in a classy sort of way, and all in whole-hearted fun.”

Published May 20, 2015

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