tampabay.com

New mayor feels buoyant, not blue

By ERNEST HOOPER
Published July 13, 2007


Financial planner George May didn't win this year's honorary Brandon mayor's race on his own.

He had the help of alter ego Elwood Blues.

May crafted a number of his fundraisers around the Brandon Blues Brothers act he shares with Mike Meegan. The effort resulted in May's raising $22,000 for charity to earn his new title.

Over lunch at Jesse's Restaurant, we talked about Elwood, May's involvement with the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce and why he devotes so much time to the community.

Pull up a chair and join us.

ERNEST: What prompted you to run for mayor?

MAY: I thought about it years ago and just really got too involved in the chamber to try to do two things at once. I had goals I wanted to accomplish at the chamber. I ended up on the board for seven years and ended up being the chairman (2005-06). It was a very busy year. We went into the new building, got $2.5-million for (a growth management) study, accomplished a lot of things. Once I finished as chairman, I wanted a breather and I thought it was as good a time as any to throw my hat into the ring.

How much did the Blues Brothers act help your winning effort?

It helped, but it was a lot of work. As Mike and I tell people, we're entertainers. We're not real singers. You've got to understand the difference. Our stature fits (the Blues Brothers act). Mike is short and I'm tall. I'll leave it at that.

How did you guys start that?

That actually started four years ago at Brandon Idol. Mike and I became good friends through the chamber, and he became a client. I said, "I've been thinking about this. Are you interested in doing this?" He said, "Shoot, yeah." It worked out perfectly.

So as mayor, can you do something about the traffic on State Road 60?

I wish I could. It is so unbelievable, the traffic. I was on the overlay district to help improve the business signs on State Road 60. I was on that committee three different times before we got something done.

The smaller signs make it look a lot better.

I'll admit I'm very surprised we're seeing as much change as quickly as we have.

Why do you devote so much time to helping the community?

An aspect of my faith is serving, and it just kind of fell into place with the people I met and the role models I saw out here. I believe you should give back to the community whether you're having success or not. I believe giving blesses you. This is our community, and if we don't make it better, who will? I'm not one of those who likes to gripe about something and not do something about it.

Do you think we need more newcomers to get involved?

Absolutely. And even the ones who've been here need to get more involved. Not only the (newcomers), but the existing people need to get involved. The huge advantage of that is we won't burn out the ones who are having to do (most of the work).

Do you have any interest in actually running for public office?

Nope. I'm just so disillusioned and dissatisfied with the process. In this day and time, the campaign manager is more concerned about smearing the opponent rather than running on a platform. The way my father raised me is that your reputation is the most valuable asset you have. If I make a mistake, I'll pay the price for it. But for someone else to smear my name? You don't have the right to do that. Plus, I feel like I can do a lot of good in this community without having to run for office.

 

DESSERT: A postscript from Ernest

A native of Mobile, Ala., May was drawn to Brandon in 1992 because it reminded him of his hometown and he had joined Bell Shoals Baptist Church. May is something of a showman, but his toughest role came in a church production when he had to portray a Roman soldier in Bell Shoals' annual Passion play.