St. Petersburg Times
North of Tampa
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message


Campaign characters

The Lutz guv'na race has platforms with personality.

Published May 18, 2007


While one candidate is spicing up the annual Lutz guv'na race with her all-natural hot sauce, another promises to bring U.S. 41 back down to two lanes and put the flagpole back in front of the Old Lutz School.

Yes, it's time again for the tongue-in-cheek race for the guv'na of Lutz, sponsored by the Lutz Civic Association. Promises are cheap. The candidate who raises the most campaign funds is crowned with the title of guv'na at the annual July Fourth festivities. All monies raised benefit Lutz organizations.

This year's candidates range from the old-fashioned to the environmental.

Lutz native Annie Fernandez hits the campaign trail with the nostalgic platform of bringing back the old Lutz of her childhood.

"I'd love to have an orange tree in every yard, " said Fernandez, 64.

Fernandez was born and raised in her grandmother's house, which is now a doctor's office on U.S. 41. She recalls the old train depot and running around Bullard Park before the library was built there. She was a stay-at-home mom to her son, Michael, before going to work at Lake Magdalene Elementary School for 13 years, where she held various positions.

She is now a vice president of the Lutz-Land O'Lakes Woman's Club, which is sponsoring her candidacy.

"This is my town. I've seen Lutz go through every change you can imagine, " said Fernandez, who hopes her slogan, "Get on the A Train, Go with a Lutz Local" will bring voters (donation dollars) on board.

More realistically, she plans on raising funds through a bunco party, weekly luncheons and a bluegrass dinner dance at the Old Lutz School.

Last year's guv'na race raised $12, 467.11 and benefited organizations such as local Boy Scout troops, the Friends of the Lutz Library and the Lutz Nature Park. The 16 years of competition have funneled $160, 000 into the treasuries of such nonprofit groups.

Candidate Michele Northrup plans to donate $1 for every bottle of her homemade hot sauce she sells by July Fourth.

Northrup, 36, of Northdale, is the fundraising coordinator for Learning Gate Community School in Lutz, which her three sons attend. Her passion for the environmentally focused school inspired her to participate in the guv'na challenge so she could give back to the community.

"I love the small-town feel of Lutz, " said Northrup, who shows off that love through her campaign slogan, "Love Lutz."

Her ties to Lutz are deep. She lived in Lutz as a child, attended Lutz Elementary and was a longtime member of the Job's Daughters of the Lutz Masonic lodge.

In addition to hot sauce donations, she plans to sell wristbands and T-shirts with her slogan and has already held an ice cream social and carwash for the cause. Her fundraising activities and dates can be found at

Tradition runs deep with the third candidate, Nancy Rehling, owner of Nancy's Good N' Fast Food on U.S. 41.

Like her restaurant, which specializes in country cooking, Rehling's campaign will focus on the old-fashioned, with ice-cream socials and family dinners.

"The sense of community you find here (in Lutz) is something you don't find anywhere else, " said Rehling. "It's what drew us here and kept us here, and we're happy to be a part of that with our restaurant."

Rehling, 58, was raised on a farm in Michigan. She worked in the radio business for many years, from writing commercials to sales and administration. She opened her breakfast and lunch restaurant last year.

Though she didn't grow up here, she thinks her grits and fried green tomatoes make her officially a Lutz local. Her campaign slogan is "Nancy Serves Lutz."

"We're really tickled by the support we've gotten from our new venture with the restaurant, so we just wanted to show our thanks to the community, " said Rehling. "(The guv'na race) is such a great cause. We're gonna give 'em a fight for the job, I tell ya."


. if you go

Thursday luncheons: Supporters of Annie Fernandez will serve lunch for $5 at noon each Thursday beginning May 31 at the Lutz Community Center, 98 First Ave. NW in Lutz.

Craft market will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 2. The event, to benefit all of the Guv'na candidates, will be at Bullard Park (Train Depot Park), 97 Lutz-Lake Fern Road, across from Lutz Branch Library.

Spaghetti dinner: The event, sponsored by Nancy Rehling, will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 17 at the Lutz Community Center. Cost is $6.50.

Bunco parties: The events, sponsored by Annie Fernandez, will be from 3 to 5 p.m. June 10 and June 24 at the Lutz Community Center. Admission is $10.

For information, call (813) 727-7549.


[Last modified May 17, 2007, 07:18:12]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters