The official kick-off for Oakhurst's 2014 Honorary Mayor campaign began April 10 at Yosemite Bank, as three candidates spoke of the positive attributes of the non-profit organizations they will be raising funds for during the campaign that runs through July 10.
Contender Michael Costa, who represents the Little Church on the Hill, was there with board member Jackie Mallouf. Funds raised during his campaign will be used to restore the outside walls of the historic building.
Special events he has planned include an Ice Cream Social, 4-6 p.m., Friday, June 20. He will also be a guest bartender at Crab Cakes Restaurant (date to be announced later), where he will portray the founder of the Little Church, Father D.O. Kelley; and a coloring contest for children. Throughout his run, Costa will be dressed in a priest's cossack.
"I want to help us hold on to Oakhurst's rich heritage," Costa said. "I hope to raise $25,000 ... the fun thing about this is that while I'm on the campaign trail raising funds, the community will actually be able to see the progress being made on the restoration of the church."
Costa is known as the Frozen Photographer because of his "Fro-Zen" show at Oakhurst's Stellar Gallery. He has also done photo journalism for the Sierra Star, and works as a stringer/videographer for KVPT Valley Public Television.
Mathew Sands represents the Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst. This is not his first time running a campaign. In 2008, he ran for the B&G Club and raised more than $22,000.
"This community needs activities for the youth," Sands said, "and the Boys and Girls Club provides a positive and safe environment for the kids."
To raise funds, the biggest event planned is Sounds of Solstice, noon - 8 p.m., Saturday, June 21, at Oakhurst Community Park. It will be a day filled with music and vendors, and for the month of April only, he is selling a VIP package, valued at $50, for $30. The package includes free entry to the pre-show at Queen's Inn Wine Bar the night before the event, featuring the music of Ten Ton Chicken, entry to Sounds of Solstice ($15 value), and a limited VIP Sounds of Solstice tee-shirt ($30 value).
Several other events are planned, including Pizza with Mat at Round Table Pizza, 5-7 p.m. tonight (April 17) and Live Jazz at River Creek Golf Course, April 24, 5-9 p.m.
A Yosemite High graduate, Sands began his business, oakhurstonline, in 2002, and was recently approached by the B&GC board of directors to run on their behalf again.
With assistance from Melanie Barker, president of club, as well as board members Eric Wood and Bob Macaulay, Sands has partnered with area businesses and musicians to offer a medley of fundraising events in the upcoming months.
Zona Cahill, retired, is running to raise awareness and funds for the Sierra Senior Society. She attended with Katie Davis, the society's president.
"I picked this organization because I live here, I'm a senior, and more than half this town doesn't even know we exist or where the Senior Center is located," Cahill said.
In 2010, Cahill headed the events and fundraising for the Senior Center, and was the driving force behind the Seniors Got Talent Show.
Proceeds from the monthly dinner at the Senior Center on Saturdays, April 19, and May 17, will go towards Cahill's fundraising efforts. Doors open at 4 p.m., with dinner served an hour later. On the May 17 date, attendees will have the opportunity to meet candidates running for different Madera County positions.
The Sierra Senior Society benefits Mountain Area seniors with a variety of services and programs.
Other Cahill events are still in the planning stage.
To win the race, the candidates simply raise money for their favorite non-profit organization. Each dollar raised during the campaign counts as a vote the candidate with the most votes wins the title and duties of the Honorary Mayor of Oakhurst.
This is the first year that this community-wide event will be run by the Eastern Madera County Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Previously the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce has administrated the event, and will be lending its support through this year's transition.