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The quick pitch

Candidates gave quick speeches and turned the floor over to politicians' platforms.

By JANE BOKUN
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 23, 2002


LUTZ -- Guv'na candidates here showcase the local color in more ways than one.

At Thursday night's annual community fund raiser, Brett Montegny dressed as a style kitten in a shocking pink wig. Cheryl Benton, dressed as an 1800s southern belle, dripped powder blue.

Candidate Stacy Ironside was the only one not dressed in costume.

"I'm not doing that whole color thing -- my platform is I want to keep Lutz just like it is, keep the boots in Lutz," said Ironside, owner of The Body Spa in Lutz.

As the sparse crowd of about 50 listened, the three candidates gave two-minute speeches to raise funds for the community. Organizers canceled the customary mock debate among guv'na candidates in order to give politicians a chance to discuss their platforms.

For more than 10 years, the guv'na race, sponsored by the Lutz Civic Association, has featured a bake sale, fundraisers and campaign appearances by guv'na candidates. All have been sponsored by Lutz organizations and businesses, including Classy Consignment owned by Montegny, the Lutz-Land O'Lakes Women's Club and the Lutz Volunteer Fire Department. Each candidate has until the first week of July to raise enough money to donate to causes such as Joshua House, Lutz Elementary School and local Boy Scout troups.

Last year's candidates raised $20,000. The person who raises the most money will be named the honorary leader of Lutz during July 4 festivities.

But while some of the speeches were filled with irreverent jokes, the Candidates Nite also was a prelude to some real stumping by real candidates for political office, several of whom were in the audience.

"If I'd known what I was walking into, I would have worn a costume," said William Levens, a candidate for Circuit Court Judge.

The seven candidates who spoke this year included five people running for state representative and two for county court judge.

At the end of the night, Ironside said she was disappointed by the turnout. She said she was worried this year's group will fall short of last year's $20,000.

"We're all trying to raise money for the charities, but we've only been making $40 and $50 increments, it's a challenge and we can use some more help from the community," Ironside said.

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