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The politics of silliness
By BILL COATS
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 7, 2000
LUTZ -- Professor Larry Solomonson, 58, may be best known as chairman of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of South Florida.
But not for the next two months. Through July 4, Solomonson is the "Party Animal," running for guv'na of Lutz and promising to abolish taxes in the community for a year.
Thus begins Lutz's annual silly season.
Vince Arcuri, a hard-driving real estate agent, was approached by Sharon Espinola, who chairs the guv'na race for the Lutz Civic Association. All of a sudden, Arcuri is promising to build a dome over Lutz's biggest recreation complex.
"I felt it was my civic responsibility to do something for the community," said Arcuri, 36.
Solomonson was tapped by Lorraine Dabney, public affairs chairwoman of the Lutz-Land O'Lakes Woman's Club.
"She said she had a proposition for me," Solomonson said. "Of course, I had to accept because I didn't want to antagonize that group."
Solomonson's wife, Aniko, is a member.
At least two of Lutz's nine past guv'nas found themselves running for the post after they were absent or late to a civic board meeting.
On the other hand, candidate William Nehls, 48, is running of his own free will for a second consecutive year.
"I met more of the people I live around in Lutz," said Nehls, who raised $2,503 last year, finishing third in a field of five. "There were a lot of people ready to help. It was just a great time and a good reason for living in Lutz."
Nehls, a telephone repairman, is being sponsored by the Lutz Sertoma Club and Dusty's Grill.
This year's competition almost had a second return candidate in Mark Carnes, who ran two years ago as the nominee of the Lutz Volunteer Fire Department.
But Carnes, who owns a landscaping company, concluded he was too busy to be competitive this year. He vowed to run next year instead.
That left the Fire Department, which may have benefited from guv'na more than any other institution, in the rare position of fielding no candidate. Last year's Fire Department candidate, Danny Neeley, was the winner.
"We'll find somebody," Neeley said Friday. "The Fire Department definitely needs somebody."
The three official candidates, meanwhile, are mapping tactics. Nehls is planning an auction, a golf tournament and a dinner. Arcuri is contemplating a "lockup" stunt from which friends would bail him out. Solomonson is thinking of a picnic, which presumably would reflect the Party Animal status conferred on him by the Woman's Club.
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