From left, Nancy Jean Baptiste, Jessica Cleveland and Frank Nabozny are running for the honorary position of Palm Harbor Mayor.
PALM HARBOR – The race is on for Palm Harbor’s next honorary mayor. Sponsored by the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce, the annual campaign is a long-standing tradition that began in 1982.
Three candidates are running in this year’s race – Nancy Jean Baptiste, Jessica Cleveland and Frank Nabozny – all own local businesses.
Every year, candidates raise money for the chamber’s foundation and for a charity of their choice. Each candidate hosts their own fundraising events where campaign supporters contribute $1 or more per vote. The candidate who raises the most money this year will be announced in early October.
The honorary mayor is considered an unofficial post. Primary responsibilities of the position include participation in the chamber’s annual holiday parade and ribbon cutting ceremonies.
Baptiste has been a chamber member for over a year. She is married and moved to the area eight years ago from New York. She and her husband own The Learning Experience Academy of Early Education in Palm Harbor.
Baptiste’s fundraising will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation and CSA Palm Harbor’s Annual Free Boat Fishing Day for Kids.
“The CSA is raising money to take children on a boat ride and fishing trip,” Baptiste said. “It’s for children who can’t necessarily afford to go to the beach or marina and have a fun day out. We’re all raising money for big causes – children, other foundations and the community.”
Baptiste is hosting a fundraising event at Lee Roy Selmon’s in Palm Harbor, Aug. 28, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Cleveland, 29, has lived in Florida for 10 years and is originally from a tiny farming town in northwest Indiana. If she wins this year’s race, she will be the youngest in Palm Harbor history to do so.
Cleveland is director of operations for Spectra Cleaning Solutions, a green cleaning company. She also serves on the chamber’s board of directors and is president of Bay Area Young Professionals.
“If I get elected, I will get more youth involved in our community,” she said.
Cleveland is supporting the Beth Dillinger Foundation’s Nourish to Flourish program. The Beth Dillinger Foundation, which is located in Clearwater, feeds 700 elementary school age children per week.
“In Pinellas County alone, there are approximately 7,000 children who are chronically hungry – that means outside of their school provided lunch, they don’t get enough nourishment at home,” Cleveland said. “The money that’s raised goes directly to the kids.”
Cleveland is sponsoring an auction and networking event at The Centre of Palm Harbor on Aug. 21.
In benefit of her campaign, the national headlined band, Green Jelly, will perform at Whiskey Joe’s Bar and Grill in Tampa, Oct. 1. Half of all ticket sales will be donated to the cause.
Cleveland is also hosting “Paint Night” at Snappers Grill and Comedy Club on Sunday, Oct. 5. Contributors will learn how to paint a picture. Canvas is provided. Tickets are $25 each plus a $10 donation in exchange for a comedy show ticket.
Nabozny, 67, owns Green Tech Termite and Pest Control. He is an Ohioan who has lived in northern Pinellas County for the past 37 years.
Nabozny served on the board of directors for the Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce for five years and currently serves on the board of directors for the Palm Harbor chamber where he has been a member for three years.
Nabozny is supporting the Suncoast Hospice Foundation. He is hosting a Texas hold ’em poker tournament at Wentworth Golf Club on Wednesday, Aug. 27. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public.
On Sept. 6, Palm Harbor resident Sheila Priest will host a party for 100 guests in support of the Suncoast Hospice Foundation.
Tickets are $20 per person or $35 per couple. Contributors also can make donations through the chamber for those not attending the event, which begins at 6 p.m.
“The idea is to bring leadership together and just have fun – no politics – and celebrate giving to the Hospice,” Nabozny said. “They’ll be able to eat, drink, and have a ball.”
Nabozny will hold a grand finale event Sept. 26 at Crescent Oaks Country Club. The event is open to the public and runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The wrap up party includes food, drink, music and a golf-putting contest.
Anyone in the community can donate their time and/or money to campaign efforts. Donations and votes can be made directly to the candidate, online at www.palmharborcc.org or by check or cash at the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce office, 1151 Nebraska Ave.