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Guv'na candidates dress for success

Wacky costumes have populated an otherwise quiet year for the annual Lutz fundraising contest.

By BILL COATS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 30, 2002


LUTZ -- This may go down in guv'na history as the year the competition became a costume party.

One candidate, Cheryl Benton, has been a photogenic "Southern belle."

Another, Brett Montegny, declared herself in January to be "Style Kitten." She has belly-danced in red cowboy boots and washed cars in a formal gown and tiara.

Their antics have forced Stacy Ironside, the third candidate, to do something never required of some 40 previous guv'na candidates. She's had to explain why she is not wearing a costume.

"Even in fun, if I could pick to be somebody else, I'm picking who I am," she said.

Aside from the theatrics, this year's guv'na race has been relatively low key. The three candidates comprise the smallest group in six years and are only half the number of last year's field.

Also, candidates were wary of last-minute frenzies of fundraising that had plagued other campaigns, so they started early. Montegny announced her candidacy in January and held a barbecue fundraiser in April, a week before the official kickoff of the campaign.

Mrs. Ironside's big-ticket event, a dinner at Splash!, and Montegny's biggest, the Lady Lutz Pageant at Skipper's Smokehouse, both occurred more than a month ago.

The campaign would have been less noticeable without costuming. Montegny's car wash, at U.S. 41 and Sunset Lane, included nearly a half dozen of her friends in formals, she said.

Mrs. Benton wore her white antebellum dress -- with gloves, hat and a parasol -- as she and fellow members of the Lutz-Land O'Lakes Woman's Club picked up roadside trash in Land O'Lakes in April.

They weren't the first to adopt costumed personas for guv'na. In 1999, Elvis impersonator Bill Akins ran for guv'na strictly as Elvis and candidate William Nehls occasionally wore his uniform as a member of the Rough Riders krewe.

Last year, Montegny was campaign manager for Karen Cuervo, who wore gowns, tiaras and feather boas as the "Funky Diva."

The costuming hasn't been difficult, the women said.

Montegny claimed the gowns weren't even stained during the car wash, and she washed wheels with her tiara intact.

"A girl knows how to keep a tiara on," she said.

Mrs. Benton said her Southern belle dress survived the trash pickup in fine shape, but it's washable anyway.

"You can throw it right in the washer," she said. "It's not made like Scarlett's, out of curtains."

-- Bill Coats can be reached at (813) 269-5309 or coats@sptimes.com.

The Guv'na Oath of Office

(The guv'na-elect raises his or her left hand and places the right hand on the "sacred book," Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham.)

Will you be Guv'na in the rain or in the sun?

Will you be Guv'na on Highway 41?

Will you be Guv'na on a lake?

Will you be Guv'na with a rake?

Will you be Guv'na in an orange tree?

Will you be Guv'na who will water ski?

Will you be Guv'na in the light or in the dark?

Will you be Guv'na in Nye Park?

Will you be Guv'na here or there?

Will you be Guv'na everywhere (in Lutz, that is)?

Do you hereby promise to the people of the Statehood of Lutz to accept this sacred oath, to rally to their causes (provided they are trivial) and preside over community functions (if you are invited)?

Repeat after me:

Guv'na, Guv'na I will be, in beautiful Lutz -- for all to see!

A show of secession

Therefore, be it known by all these men and women present, and even the ones that are not here, the great area of Lutz hereby proclaims itself independent, cranky, contrary and forever its own sovereign self. Being of very sound mind, we proclaim our freedom from the state of Florida and the county of Hillsborough. This secession action takes effect immediately and expires at midnight or when our esteemed and expensive governor's chicken lays a double-yolk egg, or whatever comes first.
-- Proclamation read each July Fourth in Lutz

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