The Honorary Mayor’s Race, now in its 51st year, has officially begun and the winner will be announced at the annual Fourth of July Parade.

The Brandon Honorary Mayor’s race is a fundraising effort established by The Community Roundtable, formerly called The President’s Roundtable, which also coordinates the annual Brandon Fourth of July Parade. The winner of this year’s race will be announced at the parade. The Honorary Mayor will represent his or her community at events and as a dignitary throughout the year.

All monies must be raised between June 1 and July 4 of each year with 80 percent of funds raised going to designated charities, 10 percent to the sponsoring organization and 10 percent to the Community Roundtable.

At the urging of All Children’s Specialty Care, Brandon Guild and the “suggestions” from current honorary mayor Tammy Holmberg and former state representative Sandy Murman, Connie Smaldone has decided to run for the title of Honorary Mayor of Brandon along with James Jensen, Kiwanis vice president and owner of Minuteman Press, soon to be re-named Next Level Printing & Graphics as Jensen is breaking from the franchise and opening his own business. Also in the running, Barbara Jones-Keplinger recently joined the race. Jones-Keplinger is a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office community resource officer at the Riverview sub-station.

Smaldone, a longtime Brandon resident, works for South Shore Group Real Estate. She already has some fundraising events planned including “Singing with the celebrities” with Tedd Webb and friends at the Italian Club, located at 1731 E. 7th Ave. in Tampa, a “Couture for Kids” fashion show and wine tasting at the Winthrop Barn Theatre, located at 11349 Bloomingdale Ave. in Brandon and a family fun day at the Campo Family YMCA, located at 3414 Culbreath Rd. in Valrico.

All of the monies raised at Smaldone’s events will benefit the Brandon area YMCAs- with the motto of “Helping Build Strong Kids, Strong Families and Strong Communities,” All Children’s Hospital Specialty Center, Brandon Guild- a 21,000-sq.-ft. clinic facility that provides medical and therapeutic services and A Kid’s Place children’s emergency assessment center for abused, abandoned or neglected children to be placed after they are taken from their homes.

Jensen said he decided to run for honorary mayor to raise money for local charities that affect people locally. The charities are the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon and the Emergency Care and Help Organization (ECHO). Jensen said of the Kiwanis Club, “That’s where my heart is.”

Jensen’s events include a BUNCO night at River Hills Country Club, located at 3943 New River Hills Pkwy. in Valrico ,a family picnic at the Brandon Sports & Aquatic Center, located at 405 Beverly Blvd. in Brandon and a tea and fashion show at the Hilton Garden Inn, located at 4328 Garden Vista Dr. in Riverview.

Jones-Keplinger has three events planned so far which include an end of school dance on Friday, June 5 at Spoto High School, located at 8538 Eagle Palm Dr. in Riverview; a golf tournament on Saturday, June 20 and a BBQ and Arts & Crafts show at the Winthrop Towne Centre on Saturday, June 27.

Last year, Tammy Holmberg, owner of Chick-fil-A Lake Brandon Village, won the race raising more than $25,000 for three local charities: the Dream Factory, which grants dreams to critically and chronically ill children, the YMCA, which promotes healthy kids and families has three locations in the Greater Brandon area (FishHawk, Campo and North Brandon) and Center Place, which offers live theater and art classes for both children and adults.

For more information on Smaldone, please visit www.ConnieforMayor.org. For more information on Jones-Keplinger, please contact her campaign manager, Peggs Stuart at pstuart11@verizon.net.

More information on the Fourth of July Parade and Honorary Mayor’s Race is also available by calling The Community Roundtable at 661-4350 or e-mailing roundtable2008@aol.com.

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Jennifer Silverstein
Jennifer is the Assistant Editor at the Osprey Observer, having climbed the corporate ladder from intern in 2007. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. She lives in Channing Park with her husband, Eric, and their two dogs.