With three weeks remaining in the Lutz Guv’na race, incumbent candidate Greg Gilbert is looking to defend the ‘sash.’
Gilbert, the managing owner of Beef O’ Brady’s in Lutz, became last year’s honorary mayor of Lutz, raising more than $1,500.
But, with two formidable challengers this year — Jessica Sherman, of Pinch A Penny, and Kori Rankin, of Kori Rankin Photography — winning again won’t likely come easy, he admits.
“Those girls seem very impressive with being involved with the community, so I don’t feel like I have any advantage over anybody,” Gilbert said. “I think it’s all going to be work, work, work to stay in the race.”
Gilbert and his family moved to Spring Hill in 2013.
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.
Though he doesn’t live in Lutz, Gilbert has tried to ingrain himself within the area, since taking over the local restaurant in December 2015.
“I know most of the regulars now; I’ve been out in the community a little bit more,” he said.
Gilbert decided to re-enter the Guv’na race to provide “a challenge” to the other contenders.
“It’s all for fun, so I thought it’d be a fun thing to do,” Gilbert said. “Last year I was afraid to do it, because I am not the public speaker kind of guy, and I had enough fun last year that I thought I’d try again.”
He’s stayed busy on the campaign trail, organizing various donations and raffles.
He also plans to host a classic car show July 1, and designate a percent of restaurant sales to the Guv’na campaign.
While he didn’t win the May 20 Guv’na debate, Gilbert arguably had the top slogan: “Hang up your boots in Lutz.”
Last year’s slogan — “Beef it up at Brady’s” — was equally catchy.
Additionally, many of Gilbert’s platform answers during the tongue-in-cheek event still resonate.
The Guv’na hopeful advocated for a motorcycle ban in Lutz, to make roads safer and less noisy. He, too, endeared himself to the women of Lutz by proposing free massages “at least once a week.”
“The first year I spent a couple days thinking about the things I wanted to say, and then this year it seemed to have come a little bit faster and easier,” Gilbert said of his debate answers.
When he’s not working or dedicating time to fundraising efforts, the Guv’na incumbent has a passion for brainteasers — he previously described himself as a “crossword and Sudoku junkie.”
No matter the outcome of this year’s Guv’na race, Gilbert is just content to raise money for a good cause.
“I’ll be happy with whoever wins, I really will,” 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 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.
More than $100,000 has been raised in the past decade alone.
The winner of the Guv’na race may also earmark 10 percent of what they raise to the organization of their choice.
If you’d like to contribute to Gilbert’s campaign, visit Beef ’O’ Brady’s Lutz, or call (813) 909-2300.
Published June 14, 2017