Campaign season has begun.
And, the three candidates vying to become Lutz’s newest Guv’na are revving up their campaign promises, their playful mudslinging and, of course, their fundraising skills in an effort to raise the most money to help various local causes.
“It’s a community event that means so much to Lutz and is so much commitment and love for Lutz,” said Stephanie Ensor, who won the race in 2010 and is a committee chairperson for this year’s competition. “We can’t do it without it being all about the Lutz community and, each year, I think all the candidates, whoever ends up winning, really embodies what Lutz is all about.”
This year’s candidates are Tim Davis, president of the Lutz Chiefs Football and Cheer Organization; Sharon Monahan, a local exceptional education teacher; and Jerome Smalls, founder and owner of the Lutz-based soccer instructional academy, SoccerGemz.
The Lutz Guv’na Campaign Season kicked off May 13 with the annual “debate” at the Old Lutz School. Suzin Carr, the only two-time Guv’na winner, moderated the debate.
Atlas Cortecero, the reigning Guv’na, led the festivities.
The current crop of candidates answered over-the-top and somewhat topical questions which were passed around to the crowd — friends, family and members of GFWC Lutz-Land O’Lakes Woman’s Club. The questions are designed to elicit humorous responses and spoof actual politics.
The debate featured Davis, Monahan and Smalls’ daughters — Ivoryele, 14, and Anora, 9 — who filled in for their dad because he could not attend.
The candidates answered questions to earn “points” or monies awarded to each’s cause. Candidates also competed to see who could fling a dried-out cow patty the farthest.
The whole process — the campaigns, the debates, the speeches and promises — is tongue-in-cheek, mocking real-life politics that often flood the news cycle.
Despite beginning in the 1950s, the annual tradition has only been historically tracked since 1991 when the Lutz Civic Association began managing the annual contest.
Each campaign season, which begins May 1, candidates raise several thousand dollars for about 20 Lutz nonprofit beneficiaries.
Cortecero followed in the steps of his wife, Michele Northrup, the 2007 Guv’na.
He raised $11,919.11 in 2022, while his wife still retains the record of raising the most money in the history of the Guv’na — nearly $17,000.
In 2022, candidates raised a total of $25,079.07 used to help worthy causes.
Whomever is crowned Guv’na earmarks 10% of the proceeds to a Lutz charitable organization of his or her choice.
Davis and Smalls have yet to pick a specific charity for the 10%, but Monahan said hers will go to Lutz K-8, which is close to her heart because both of her children went to school there.
Cortecero gave money to several organizations, but his 10% went to the Old Lutz School, which benefited from several window replacements in 2022.
Now, Davis, Monahan and Smalls are working diligently on the campaigns and promises, such as Davis teaching everyone the “Lutz Song” or Monahan “looking forward to having fun” but also “refuting ridiculous claims by my opponents.”
“I’m very excited to run again,” Ivoryele Smalls said for her absentee dad, who has run previously. “(Speaking for myself), I’ve been here ever since I was a little girl and this area means a lot to my family and I.
“And we hope that second time’s the charm!”
After the debate, the candidates will be busy raising campaign funds by having raffles, car washes, lunches or other events. The candidates can even panhandle during the parade, in the final push to raise cash for the sash.
The campaign season culminates when the candidate with the most successful fundraising effort is announced as the winner. The announcement comes shortly after the community’s annual parade concludes. The swearing-in ceremony is held on the stage of the train depot building, at Lutz Lake Fern Road and U.S. 41.
At the debate, Cortecero, who is wrapping up his reign as this year’s Guv’na, expressed his gratitude for the experience.
“It’s been an amazing year, as Guv’na, with all the support of the Lutz community,” Cortecero told the crowd at the Lutz School. “I just want to say thank you for the beautiful results of the past year that went by so fast.
“I absolutely loved being your Guv’na.”
MEET THE CANDIDATES
Bio: As a teacher of exceptional education for 26 years, Sharon Monahan has taught at Tim’s preschool, Maniscalco K-8 and Gaither High, and she now serves as a district resource teacher with Hillsborough County Schools. Her husband of 21 years is a local photographer with James Monahan Photography. The couple have a son, who is a U.S. Marine and an Eagle Scout from Troop 12. They also have a daughter, who is a junior at Gaither High School and a member of the school’s cheerleading squad.
Quotable: “Don’t be alone-a; vote for Sharon-a!”
Bio: Jerome Smalls, who moved to Tampa in 2005, opened SoccerGemz in 2012. The program teaches the basic skills and fundamentals of soccer for children 18 months to 8 years old in the Lutz community. Smalls was aided by his two daughters, who filled in for him at the Guv’na debate on May 13. He’s a very active member with Lutz First Baptist.
Quotable: “This is my second time running for Guv’na so hopefully second time’s a charm!”
Bio: Tim Davis is the president of the Lutz Chiefs Football and Cheer Organization and a partner at McNary Bergeron and Associates, an engineering firm specializing in construction of complex bridges. The entire Davis family is active at the Lutz Chiefs and have also played Lutz Baseball and Rangers Soccer. The candidate acknowledges that his wife, Anne, does all the work at the Chiefs, while he gets all of the credit. Their kids play football, cheer, hockey, wrestle and occasionally work concessions.
Quotable: “I don’t know — I just live here!”
Past Lutz Guv’nas
2022 – Atlas Cortecero
2019 – Amy Lancaster
2018 – Domenic Difante
2017 – Kori Rankin
|2016 – Greg Gilbert
2015 – Jennifer Rankin
2014 – Dr. Cindy Perkins
2013 – Suzin Carr
2012 – Karen D’Amico
2011 – Kevin White
2010 – Stephanie Ensor
2009 – Suzin Carr
2008 – Teri Burgess
2007 – Michele Northrup
2006 – Edwina Kraemer
2005 – Liz Iaconetti
2004 – Dean Rivett
2003 – Joni Cagle
2002 – Brett Montegny
2001 – Helen Kinyon
2000 – Vince Arcuri
1999 – Danny Neeley
1998 – Sandy Ruberg
1997 – Earl Smith
1996 – Ben Nevel
1995 – Kay Dahman
1994 – Lorraine Dabney
1993 – Leslie Dennison
1992 – Betty Neeley
1991 – Jo Van Bebber
Published May 31, 2023