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In this race, votes can be bought

Published Oct. 9, 2005

(ran TS edition)

From promises of a pork chop in every frying pan to parking meters at stop lights along Brandon Boulevard during rush hour, the Brandon mayor candidates' campaign promises are worthless.

But, hey, what can you say when the position is only honorary?

Since the first mayor's race in 1959, the candidates have been elected in the most unorthodox manner _ by buying their votes.

Sponsored by the President's Roundtable, the event has five candidates: Mark Carson, Tom Denham, Hilda Hampton, Jim Kramer and Mike Maurer. Each candidate will raise funds, and the one with the most money after the Fourth of July parade July 5 will become "mayor for a year."

The money will be divided three ways: 20 percent to the roundtable, 10 percent to the club sponsoring the candidate and 70 percent to the charity of the sponsor's choice.

The first campaign event takes place from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday with a "Father's Day Bash" sponsored by Kramer at the Veterans Hall, 409 Moon Ave. For $5.75, folks can eat barbecue chicken, drink tea, coffee, soft drinks or non-alcoholic beer and participate in a auction and be entertained by music by Mid Night Riders, Hot Shots, Nuttin Fancy and Rick Garcia as "Elvis."

Door prize drawings will be held all afternoon.

Kramer's money will go to the Veterans Freedom Memorial to be constructed on the grounds of the Veterans Memorial Park on U.S. 301. He is sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4340 and the Brandon Veterans Post and Parks Association.

On June 25, Hampton, who was the mayor in 1981, will have an old-fashioned barbecue dinner at Rotary's Camp Florida on Camp Florida Road off of Lakewood Drive. The dinner is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m., and money will go for the Reach Out to Cancer Kids (R.O.C.K.) Camp. Hampton is sponsored by the Women's Service League of Brandon.

"Camp R.O.C.K. is a good summer experience for the kids," said Hampton. "It costs $750 to send each child to the camp."

Cost of the dinner is $15 and will feature barbecue and "delicious desserts." Raffle tickets for a weekend trip to Key West and a portrait by Dallas Pavone will be available for $1. Call 685-1340 for ticket information.

The "Almost Honorable Maybe Mayor" Tom Denham is planning a Toga/Costume party from 8 p.m. to midnight on June 26, also at Rotary's Camp Florida.

"Don't miss it," Denham said. "Brandon won't let us do it again and besides we'll talk about you if you're not there."

Cost of the tickets are $10 in advance by calling 685-4122 or $15 at the door. Entertainment will be provided by Tom Denham and the Restless Natives, Steve and Jay and special guest appearances by "Elvis Presley," "Roy Orbison" and "The Blues Brothers."

Finger foods and a cash bar will be available, and prizes will be awarded for the best costumes.

Denham is sponsored by Leadership Brandon Alumni Association, and money will benefit the scholarship fund and the Emergency Care Help Organization, also known as ECHO.

Mike Maurer, the Brandon Jaycees candidate, is selling tickets for $1 for a three-day and two-night trip to Orlando and a visit to the theme park of the winner's choice.

Maurer, a lifelong Brandon resident and a 1984 graduate of Brandon High School, will donate his money to the New Life Dwelling Place.

"I know the community and like to see it grow," Maurer said. "I would like to be a part of the decision-making and being honorary mayor is a good place to start.

Raffle tickets can be purchased by calling W.L. Knight at 659-1275.

Mark Carson will have his fund-raiser on the last day of the campaign. Carson, sponsored by Rotary Club of Brandon '86, will have a pancake breakfast before the Fourth of July parade from 7 to 10 a.m. July 5 at Piccadilly Cafeteria, 1025 W Brandon Blvd.

Cost for the all-you-can-eat breakfast is $4 for adults and $2 for children under 12.

Carson is proud to be running for the position, because his family goes back to the settlers. His great-great-great-aunt, Martha Carson, was John Brandon's first wife. Brandon founded the community 100 years ago.

"The parade will come down Robertson Street so folks can set up chairs after eating breakfast and get a good view of the parade," Carson said.

Carson's fund-raiser will benefit the Brandon '86 Rotary Foundation, which gives money to ECHO, the Outreach Clinic, New Life Dwelling Place and Rotary Camp Florida. For advance tickets, call 681-3863.

Chris Scogin, this year's honorary mayor, says her tenure has been rewarding.

"I enjoyed meeting a lot of people I wouldn't have met otherwise," she said. "It has been a pleasure to represent Brandon at functions that were fun and important. We've made a place on the map for Brandon, and I will miss it."