Pamela Sprecher, left, and Penny Lee Todd are vying for the job of Palm Harbor's honorary mayor.
PALM HARBOR – As Arlene Tracht begins to transition out of her one-year role as honorary mayor of Palm Harbor, new candidates are gearing up for takeover of the seat.
The honorary mayor’s race was started by the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce in 1982 and has been a long-standing tradition since that time. The winner of this year’s race will appear in the annual Palm Harbor Holiday Parade in December and receive a trophy at the chamber’s coffee hour in January.
The chamber announced three new candidates early in the month, one of whom dropped out due to business obligations. Of the two candidates remaining, Pamela Sprecher and Penny Lee Todd are both representing notable and worthwhile charities.
Each year, candidates raise money for the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce Foundation and for a charity of their choice. The candidates host their own fundraising events and ask contributors for $1 or more per vote. The proceeds are distributed equally among the charities. Mayoral races in the past have brought in between $3,000 and $10,000 annually. Anyone in the community can contribute their time or money to the race.
The primary responsibilities of honorary mayor include accompanying the chamber’s CEO and chairman of the board on official new business openings and first-year anniversaries.
Sprecher, 31, is single and lives in Dunedin. She is a Realtor with Alexa Realty, a small, independent agency in Clearwater. She is president of the Palm Harbor Toastmasters Club and has served as both vice president of membership and vice president of education for the club.
“It’s such a great organization. I really love devoting my time to it and seeing people grow,” she said. “It has helped me so much – I have grown.”
Toastmasters International is a worldwide organization made up of local district clubs. It is committed to helping people, who speak a second language or have a fear of public speaking, improve their communication and leadership skills. The organization creates a safe, judgment-free environment for practicing speakers. They receive feedback and instruction, which enables them to advance through tiered levels of public speaking.
“People that know me can’t believe I’m now Pamela Sprechergetting up in front of groups of people and speaking,” Sprecher said. “It has become really easy and enjoyable for me.”
Sprecher is originally from Pennsylvania and moved to Palm Harbor at an early age. She attended elementary and middle school as well as part of high school in Palm Harbor. She moved to Philadelphia to attend college, where she studied fine arts and sculpting. Sprecher hopes to generate between $1,500 and $2,000 through donations for her charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Penny Lee Todd, 52, is a native of Lansing, N.Y. She is single, and a mother of two sons and grandmother to three grandchildren.
Todd has worked for the Pillsbury Corp. and Hershey Chocolates. For the past 17 years, she worked as an area restaurant consultant for Sysco Foods. In 2011, she suffered a brain stem stroke and took a leave of absence from Sysco for one year.
During recuperation, Todd wanted to stay connected to the community and volunteered at the chamber on several committees. She has been a chamber member since 2007.
“I love helping others,” she said. “I enjoy learning about area business and connecting like-minded people in an effort to help their businesses grow. I take great pride in being an ambassador for the chamber.”
In March, Todd wanted to move forward after her illness and started PennyRich Pool Services LLC along with co-owner Richard Minton. The Palm Harbor pool cleaning service provides the most up-to-date knowledge available from the National Pool Foundation for its referral business.
“We really appreciate our customers and enjoy saving them time,” Todd said. “We provide a safe environment for families to enjoy their pool.”
Todd’s fundraising will benefit the Suncoast Animal League, which is a nonprofit, no-kill animal rescue agency in Palm Harbor. It cares for abandoned, abused, homeless and unwanted animals. The Suncoast Animal League provides medical treatment, shelter, socialization and affection to animals while they wait for their “forever home.” It also provides specialized services for traumatized animals. In some cases, the agency provides temporary foster care for animals in need of additional care.
“I know firsthand what it is like to get a second chance at life,” Todd said. “My kitty Max has been a great comfort to me, and he was adopted from the Suncoast Animal League.”
The Suncoast Animal League will host its sixth annual Dogtoberfest, Saturday, Nov. 9, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The super pet adopt-a-thon is free and will be held at Highlander Park, 1920 Michigan Blvd., Dunedin. Past shows have drawn up to 5,000 attendees.
Both candidates are planning fundraising events over the upcoming months. Sprecher has plans to guest bartend at local Palm Harbor establishments and auction off “date” nights. Todd will form a team of business professionals and Suncoast Animal League advocates, who will collectively “brainstorm” fundraising ideas.
The Suncoast Animal League is located at 1030 Pennsylvania Ave. For more information about volunteering, fostering, or to make a donation, call 786-1330. Visit www.suncoastanimal