RIVERVIEW – Riverview’s honorary mayor’s race is on and by the time it’s over organizers hope a lot of money will have changed hands.
That’s because the three candidates vying for the role – Michelle Mosher, Cliff Kennedy and Christian Beiter – are raising votes by raising cash and splitting the proceeds between the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce and their charities of choice.
“We are extremely excited to have three enthusiastic candidates this year,” said Debbie Kirkland, the chamber’s executive director. “We’re looking forward to the many fun and entertaining events to come.”
The way it works is this: the candidates will host a variety of events over the next seven weeks to draw as much support as possible for their campaigns. Each dollar they collect equates to a vote, so the trio will be busy hitting up everyone they know to bring in the big bucks to win the title, bragging rights and assorted honorary mayoral duties. The highly guarded results will be announced Sept. 24 at the chamber’s monthly luncheon.
The honorary mayor represents the chamber at a variety of community events and functions; serves a one-year term on the board; attends ribbon cuttings to make proclamations; is a judge at chamber-sponsored contests; and gets a “mayor’s minute” at every chamber luncheon.
“Each honorary mayor brings their own personality to the role,” said Tanya Doran. “Because of that we’re very flexible about their ‘duties.’ The bottom line is we like to make whatever they do a big deal and put them out front as much as possible.”
The chamber kicked off the race Aug. 6 at a party at Barnacles in Brandon, which drew a standing-room-only crowd. When the cajoling subsided two of the candidates and a stand-in threw their hats in the ring: Mosher, Kennedy and Beiter’s father, Michael. Beiter was out of town attending a business-related educational conference.
Mosher, 44, is the managing agent of Great Florida Insurance Southshore in Apollo Beach. She lives in Riverview with her family and three dogs.
“Running for honorary mayor is something I’ve thought about doing for some time,” she said. “It’s a wonderful way to raise money for charity.”
Mosher selected two nonprofit groups – Honor Flight of West Central Florida, which sends aging war veterans to Washington, D.C., to see their memorials, and Voices for Children, the fundraising arm of Hillsborough County’s Guardian ad Litem program, which advocates for foster kids.
“I’m raising money for the stars of the country and the future of our country,” she said, adding that she has been a Guardian ad Litem since 2010.
Although Mosher has nothing firmly planned at the moment, she and her campaign manager, Jennifer King of Rodan +Fields Dermatologists, are already envisioning events like a bachelor/bachelorette auction, back-to-school bowling bash and a wine tasting.
“We’re all friends raising money for great charities, and we’ve vowed to keep it like that,” Mosher said. “I just want to have fun.”
To give her a hand, call (813) 528-3036.
Kennedy, 48, is the co-owner of Alley Cat Pest Control in Riverview. He lives in Apollo Beach with his wife and campaign manager, Lisa, Riverview’s honorary mayor in 2012.
Having grown up in Riverview the East Bay High School graduate has deep roots in the area.
“The mayor’s race is a good way to give back to the chamber and raise money for charity,” he said. He also chose Honor Flight of West Central Florida as one of his charities and the Rotary Club of FishHawk-Riverview as his second.
“I firmly believe in our military, and these Honor Flight guys are walking history books,” Kennedy said. “We lose some of them every day. And I’m a member of the FishHawk-Riverview Rotary, which supports Honor Flight.”
The Kennedys haven’t booked anything yet but so far they’re planning a Voice of Riverview contest, singing telegrams performed by the two of them and a 50/50 raffle that should net the winner “thousands.”
The man plans to win.
“I don’t like to lose,” he said. “Failure is not an option.”
If you’d like to help, call (813) 671-3838.
Beiter is a certified financial planner with Preservation 1st Financial Group in Tampa. He lives in Summerfield with his wife of more than 11 years and two children.
Entering the race was a “last-minute thing,” he said. He wanted YMCA Camp Cristina in Riverview to have representation in the race, and since no one else stepped in to sponsor it, he jumped in.
Beiter serves on Camp Cristina’s board.
“I like its mission of helping develop kids and programs to try and eliminate drowning deaths,” he said.
The 33 year old is also president of a local Toastmasters chapter and co-chair of the South Shore Young Professionals networking group. His father will serve as campaign chair.
“I have a lot of ideas right now but nothing is finalized,” he said, adding that he’s working on a family day at Camp Cristina and a poker tournament.
Otherwise he keeping mum – for now.
“This is a great opportunity to raise money for some well-deserving charities,” he said. “It should be fun.”
To support Beiter, call (813) 325-5626.