After three months of campaigning for the title of Oakhurst Honorary Mayor, candidates, supporters and community members gathered in the Oakhurst Community Park last week for the big announcement. And, with $36,799.24 worth of votes, John K. Burton was named the 2012 Oakhurst Honorary Mayor for the second time, representing the Eastern Madera County SPCA.
All together, the three honorary mayor candidates raised a total of $67,155.57 for Mountain Area non profit organizations -- the EMC SPCA represented by Burton, the Children's Museum of the Sierra represented by Jarrod Lyman, and the Wild Wonderful King Vintage Museum represented by Steven Jacobs.
"I am very pleased with the outcome of this year's Honorary Mayoral Campaign," said Darin Soukup, executive director of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce. "The community support for the candidates and the individual campaigns was tremendous."
Burton, the winner of the 2010 race and now the 2012 race, said it felt great to win for the Eastern Madera County SPCA for the second time.
"I love it," Burton said. "It gives me a chance to get the community involved in giving to charities. We're giving to the community and keeping in focus that Oakhurst is a giving community."
Burton said that even with the hard economic times we're in, people were still giving -- even people without jobs were donating money to the cause.
For Burton, it wasn't all about winning -- it was merely raising money for deserving charities and he said he offered to help the other contestants running in the race. The funds Burton raised will go towards an animal shelter that is to be built off Highway 49 across from Wasuma Elementary School in Ahwahnee.
Sharon Fitzgerald, president of the EMC SPCA, said the organization is very pleased in raising more than $36,000.
"It's a huge help to move us closer to our goal of getting the shelter built," she said. "This push was really the beginning of fundraising."
Fitzgerald said that as they move forward with the shelter, it's important they they continuously receive major gifts from corporations and individuals because they anticipate shelter bids coming in at $1.2 million. Fitzgerald said they're working with the county on the lease and permits and groundbreaking should be within the next 90 days. Bids will go out once the SPCA has received the land lease with the county and the conditional use permit from the planning department. Then the bids will go out. While they are out, Fitzgerald said they can begin to work on the infrastructure such as grading service roads, drilling a well, and having some electric poles moved.
The other two honorary mayor runner up candidates also have big plans for their organizations.
Lyman, who helped raise almost $27,000 for the children's museum, was pleased with the results of the race.
"I'm really happy with that amount because it came from throughout the community," Lyman said. "A lot of people supported the effort, came to the many events we put on and really showed their support for the Children's Museum. The people behind my campaign really worked hard and I think the total that we raised in just three months really proves that. I will remain involved in the Children's Museum. We're in the midst of planning a new program and a new exhibit, both of which are very exciting."
Jacobs said the honorary mayor campaign was a lot of fun and they were able to generate a lot of interest in the vintage museum. The money raised, around $4,000, will help with expenses.
"The biggest thing we learned is how supportive and generous this community is to local charities," Jacobs said. "Friends, acquaintances and strangers either gave money or helped us to raise money. We feel we have built up a lot of momentum and want to continue to do programs."
This year's honorary mayor race raised almost three times as much as last year's race and the SPCA was only about $3,000 away from meeting the record amount of money raised, which was $40,124 by Honorary Mayor Brian Gearhart in 2009.
"Jarrod, Steven and John put in an astonishing amount of time, energy and resources to help support their favorite cause," Soukup said. "I congratulate each and every candidate on a well run campaign."