Greg Gilbert is new to the area — just like his competitor in the Lutz Guv’na race.
And just like his rival, Andre Pamplona of Royal Lanes Bowling, Gilbert was urged by by Suzin Carr, the Lutz Guv’na ambassador, to jump into the 2016 race.
“She was relentless,” Gilbert said, describing Carr’s encouragement for him to enter the race.
“However, it did sound like a lot of fun to do something like this, and to be involved in the community a little bit more,” said Gilbert, who took over as the managing owner of Beef O’ Brady’s in Lutz in December.
Before moving to Florida, he spent 20-plus years in Michigan working as a general manager for both T.G.I. Fridays and Ruby Tuesday.
Due to his wide-ranging obligations to his restaurant, Gilbert admits he has some catching up to do on the Guv’na campaign trail.
To try to make up some ground, Gilbert plans to dive headfirst into fundraising efforts between now and July 4, the final day of the annual charity event.
He hopes to organize a car wash behind the restaurant, and perhaps hold a classic car show over the next few weeks to boost his campaign.
“I’m new to this area, so I have to find some avenues to make some of this happen,” said Gilbert, who lives in Spring Hill.
Though he considers himself to be “quite a shy guy,” he enjoyed participating in the whimsical Lutz Guv’na debate last month at the Old Lutz School.
There, he showed the ability to step out of his comfort zone during the question-and-answer portion of the debate, where he offered some clever responses to some of the “hot-button issues” pertaining to Lutz residents.
For example, during the light-hearted banter, Gilbert proposed to have “all Canadians stopped in Land O’ Lakes” as a solution to prevent snowbirds from inhabiting Lutz.
It’s also where he revealed his campaign slogan: “Beef it up at Brady’s.”
“I was pretty apprehensive going into it, but I had a lot of fun doing that,” Gilbert said about the tongue-in-cheek debate.
When he’s not working or dedicating time to fundraising efforts, the Guv’na candidate has a passion for brainteasers — he describes himself as a “crossword and Sudoku junkie.”
Despite his busy schedule, and no matter the outcome of this year’s Guv’na race, Gilbert has no qualms about becoming a candidate all over again.
“I’d be more than happy to try this next year, where I’ll be able to put a lot more into it,” he said.
The Guv’na race continues through the Fourth of July weekend.
The winner will be announced after the community’s traditional parade.
The next honorary mayor will receive the coveted “sash” from last year’s winner, Jennifer Rankin, who raised more than $9,200 in the 2015 race.
The annual charity event— which started in 1991— is sponsored by the Lutz Civic Association, and benefits about 20 local causes, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Old Lutz School and the Friends of the Library.
The winner of the Guv’na race may also earmark 10 percent of what they raise to the organization of their choice.
Published June 22, 2016