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Saturday, Oct 21, 2017
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Race for honorary mayor of Riverview pays off big

Two mayors in one home is what distinguishes the Kennedy clan of Riverview, a realization that would not have occurred if it were not for an extra $18.50, which was included in the more than $16,500 worth of checks presented to this year’s benefiting charities.

At The Regent in Riverview on Oct. 22, at the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce’s monthly membership meeting, Cliff Kennedy and his two opponents presented checks to their charities of choice.

The annual race is run by the candidate who raises the most money for charity. Kennedy’s wife, Lisa, served as honorary mayor two terms ago.

“I told my husband to pace yourself, learn as much as you can and have fun,” Lisa Kennedy said. “Running and serving are two very different things. Running is like a full-time job and serving is more of a responsibility.”

This year, only $18.50 separated Kennedy’s tally from the second-place finisher. Michelle Mosher ran on behalf of Voices fo Children of Tampa Bay and Honor Flight of West Central Florida. Each group received a check for $1,170.08.

Kennedy also raised money for Honor Flight of West Central Florida as well as for the Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview Foundation; both Kennedy and outgoing mayor Elijah Heath are members of the local Rotary club. Each of Kennedy’s charities received a check for $1,480.44.

Rounding out the field of candidates was Christian Beiter, who presented a check for $2,964.13 to YMCA Camp Christina.

Beiter works for Preservation First Financial Group and Mosher, for Great Florida Insurance South Shore.

In all, the three candidates raised $16,530.30; the remaining portion of proceeds is earmarked for the Riverview chamber, to help keep membership dues low and to help support community events.

The winning candidate’s term begins in January and includes one year’s worth of service on the chamber’s board of directors.

“I’m excited about representing the chamber, I wanted to get more involved,” said Kennedy, who with his wife owns Alley Cat Pest Control in Riverview. “I grew up in Riverview, I’m not somebody who moved here, so it means a lot to me to be honorary mayor. It’s the only place I’ve ever called home.”

Kennedy said he remembers a time when he said he would never run for mayor. Then, he started to think about it. What convinced him was a chamber meeting earlier this year when Honor Flight of West Central Florida was the featured topic. The group was founded in 2010 as a regional hub of the National Honor Flight Network, which provides paid flights for World War II veterans to visit their memorials in Washington D.C.

At The Regent on Oct. 22, Jim Haake, the hub’s president, was on hand to receive checks from both Kennedy and Mosher.

“World War II veterans are getting very old,” Haake said in an interview after the luncheon. “Seven hundred of them die every day and there are just under 1 million of them left, so time is our enemy.”

The checks donated “means that we can fly another five veterans to Washington D.C.,” Haake said. “This money goes toward Mission 18 on the 27th of May, with Brandon businesses and the Osprey Observer.”

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