LUTZ — New Lutz Guv'na Suzin Carr has a knack for improvisation and likes change, but the past year has been adventurous even by her standards.
After 16 months on the market, her old house in Windsor Park recently sold.
While that house was up for sale, Carr and her family were already living in their new home, but without most of their furniture.
In November, she published her first book.
Recently her grandparents moved into the guest house next to her new home.
And finally, on Saturday, months of community fundraising paid off with a big win in the race for Guv'na.
"We've had a lot of craziness going on, but the pieces seem to be coming into place," she said.
Carr, 41, raised more than $6,000 to win a four-way contest for Guv'na, Lutz's most irreverent honor.
As Guv'na, her duties are ceremonial, such as lighting the community Christmas tree. The accoutrements of office — a sash and a Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat hat — are whimsical, but she said the honor is incredible.
"I just jumped out of my skin," she said. "It was one of those surreal moments. I'm humbled by it."
Also running and fundraising were coffee shop proprietor Michelle Mitchell, restaurateur Shael Morgan and Kay Taylor of the Lutz-Land O'Lakes Women's Club. Taylor came in second, raising nearly $4,200.
"Please support these ladies in all they do and the businesses who gave," Carr urged the crowd after the community's annual Fourth of July parade. "They gave their best to you."
In all, the candidates raised $11,786 to be distributed among Scout troops, school groups and other community organizations.
"The way we look at it is, this is money that groups and organizations can use to do extras," the things they might not otherwise afford, longtime Lutz Civic Association member Eleanor Cecil said.
For the second year, each of the Guv'na candidates will be allowed to designate how 10 percent of the money she raised is allocated.
Carr is the author of I Choose, a whimsical children's book about the choices people make. It is illustrated by her son Chandler, 9, who will be in the fourth grade this fall at Learning Gate Community School. In May, it got an endorsement from national radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger.
Carr incorporated the theme of the book into her campaign for Guv'na, putting an "I Choose Lutz" link on her Web site to promote the 65 local businesses that supported her.
She also printed the slogan on T-shirts and car magnets.
"I had magnets on other people's cars," she said. "People that I knew. I didn't just put magnets on random cars, though I was tempted."
Like the other candidates, Carr held fundraisers such as barbecues, book-signings and wine-tastings.
At one, she raised just $5.35.
"It takes a lot of those events to make a winner," she said.
But lately she's had a lot of practice at setting a goal and sticking with it.
Carr and her husband, Jim, an accountant, bought their home on Hanna Road about a year and a half ago.
Once it was home to the Church of the Nazarene, but it had been renovated as a residence by the time they bought it. Despite moving in to the new place, they left most of their furniture at their old home so it would show better, Carr said.
During that time, Carr said she kept a lot of her stuff in plastic totes like the resourceful Girl Scout she once was. For Christmas, she said she had a neighbor bring over Jim's old chest of drawers "so he had a place to put his socks."
The swing in her back yard used to be a pew in the church, she said. She got it at a silent auction to benefit Learning Gate.
And what once was a small classroom building was renovated into a separate guesthouse. That's where Carr's grandparents have moved, and it was a selling point for her.
When she first saw the house, Carr wasn't looking to move.
To the contrary, she and her husband had just "high-fived" each other because they had lived in the same place for five years, "which is unusual for us," she said.
But the guesthouse made it perfect for an extended family, and she loved the wooded setting.
"We just love being there," she said. "It's so serene no matter what time of day it is."
Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5311.