The candidates to become the next Lutz Guv’na are all a bunch of sellouts.
At the annual Guv’na debate May 10 at the Old Lutz School, the five hopefuls for the ceremonial title were doing whatever they could to raise cash: Selling cookies, brownies and even specialty popcorn. They had raffles and drawings. They even announced yard sales and other fundraisers scheduled for the next couple months.
But unlike a traditional political campaign, the money raised doesn’t go toward buttons, bumper stickers or negative attack ads. It goes to local schools, civic organizations and other groups that benefit from the Lutz Guv’na event, which names the winner solely by how much money they raise for charity. Last year the candidates as a group raised nearly $12,000, most of that coming from the winner and current Guv’na, Suzin Carr.
The debate was an opportunity for the candidates to kick off their campaigns with smiles, handshakes and outrageous promises if “elected” to office. One vowed to rid the area of pesky mosquitoes. Another promised a five-day weekend. And they participated in contests to show their ability to handle the job, such as watermelon eating and knitting.
If it all sounds a little strange, Carr said that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.
“It’s a silly, community spirit, wonderful thing for Lutz,” she said. “It’s supposed to be tacky. It’s supposed to be off-the-cuff crazy.”
Having a campaign for an honorary title is the kind of event that keeps Lutz’s small-town appeal intact. The fact that the money goes directly to organizations that need it makes the Lutz Guv’na race a positive force in the community, Carr explained. Scout troops, the Civil Air Patrol, Friends of the Library and the Old Lutz School itself are just some of the groups who will benefit from the money candidates raise.
This year’s crop of candidates seemed eager to kick off their campaigns. Liane Caruso is the founder and chief marketing officer of Limelight Marketing. She has a strong knowledge of social media and a love of tacos going for her.
Susan Gulash is the owner and creative force behind Gulash Graphics. She couldn’t attend the debate, but was well represented with her team both at the booth and the podium.
“Papa” Jay Muffly was the longtime president of the Lutz Volunteer Fire Association. He’s the choice of the Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club, and had plenty of supporters in attendance.
Dr. Cindy Perkins is the owner of the Back in Health Wellness Center. She came to the debate armed with cupcakes for sale and a pink tutu to wear while on the panel.
Jerome Smalls is the director of operations at Soccer Gemz, a sports program for younger children. His program is so positive-oriented that when asked to showcase his “mean coach” voice, he only shouted encouragement.
Carr, the only two-time Lutz Guv’na, loves wearing the sash that designates her as current title-holder. But she knows her term will come to an end soon, and she has some advice for those who want her job: Enjoy the race, and the title that might come with it.
“Have fun. Put yourself out there,” she said. “For me, when I ran, it wasn’t as Suzin Carr. I was in a character. The Guv’na to me is a character.
“Nobody believes that at home I’m really a private person. But when I’m in the public eye like this, you just go with it.”
Published May 14, 2014
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