Talk about your power couple.
Raising nearly $12,000, Atlas Cortecero became the 2022 Lutz Guv’na after the town’s annual Independence Day Parade.
The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Lutz Train Depot, in front of the Lutz Branch Library, near the corner of Lutz Lake Fern Road and U.S. 41.
Cortecero follows in the steps of his wife, Michele Northrup, the 2007 Guv’na. She’s now assuming the title of First Woman of Lutz.
“We are the first married couple to both hold the office of Guv’na,” said Northrup, also known as The Saucy Queen because of her local hot sauce business. “(Campaigning for Atlas) was so much fun, but we noticed that everyone wanted to pitch in, whether it be small or large. Everyone wanted to give to the community. It was so heartwarming to see Lutz come together.”
Cortecero, who was born and raised in São Paulo/Brazil, added: “You have no idea how much fun (running for Guv’na) was. The parade was so much fun, being able to march in front of the General Lee we rented and just wave the American flag.
“It was a beautiful parade and a beautiful welcome to becoming Guv’na,” said Cortecero, who claimed the title by a narrow margin.
He raised $11,919.11. David Penzer, another candidate, brought in $11,024 and Stacee Campbell, the third candidate, hauled in $2,135.96.
The grand total of $25,079.07 will support local charities and other nonprofit organizations.
“The goal of Guv’na for all these years is to bring people together,” Cortecero said. “I think the main thing is to get the money to the people of Lutz, for it to stay in the community and help this community,” he said.
Cortecero’s total is believed to be the third most raised in the history of the Guv’na race, just behind 2004 Guv’na, the late Dean Rivett, who raised $12,452.
The most ever raised? Nearly $17,000 by none other than the current First Lady of Lutz, Northrup.
The race, which started in 1991, is sponsored by the Lutz Civic Association and raises several thousand dollars for about 20 Lutz nonprofit beneficiaries.
Prior to 1991, the race was sponsored by the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s club. Candidates earmark 10% of what he or she raises to the Lutz charitable organization of his or her choice.
One of Cortecero’s campaign promises was to use proceeds raised for renovations to the Old Lutz School House.
He intends to keep that promise.
“The door, you look at it — almost all of (the school house) — is in disrepair,” he said. “Of all the charities, the one that needs it the most is the schoolhouse.”
Penzer plans to donate his 10% to the GFWC, while Campbell is giving her 10% to Lutz Softball.
Guv’na Committee members said candidates hit the campaign trail hard this year, certainly looking to make up for the lack of fundraising when COVID shut down those events, as well as the parade.
Because of the hiatus, Amy Lancaster, the 2019 Guv’na, held on to the honorary title for more than two years.
“I think that everyone is just ready to get back to it — it’s part of the community; it’s tradition,” Guv’na Committee’s Stephanie Ensor, who won the title in 2010, told The Laker/Lutz News in May. “It means a lot to a lot of people, and to the candidates, who do it to raise money for charities, nonprofits and the community.”
Cortecero hosted several fundraising events at local businesses such as Chicago’s Best Burgers, Station House BBQ and Auzalu’s Artisan Market & Pottery Studio. He also sold nearly 50 “Atlas For Guv’na” shirts, as well as discount cards that can be used at several Lutz businesses. Cortecero also auctioned off several items throughout the campaign, including a puppy that was donated to him from Lutz breeder, Brooklyn’s Boxer, and quickly raised $500.
Campbell, owner of Lutz Scoops, gave away free ice cream with any Guv’na donation, sold Lutz merchandise and also held donation events at Station House BBQ and Chicago’s Best Burgers.
Penzer, a real estate agent, wrestling announcer and longtime resident of Heritage Harbor neighborhood, held several events, including a bingo night, a putting contest and cornhole tournament, and live music fundraisers at Double Bogey’s Tavern and Grill.
In the end, though, it was Cortecero who celebrated by donning the Lutz Guv’na sash.
“You know, it’s funny. When someone wins (the Super Bowl), they say, ‘I’m going to Disney World!’” Northrup said. “When we found out he won, I was like, ‘You know where you really need to go because they were such a big supporter.’”
“I’m going to Station House BBQ,” he said.
Published July 13, 2022
This story was revised on July 13, 2022.