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Honorary Mayor's race candidates announced


April 23, 2014
On April 2, The Vineyard Wines and Tastes, located at 28714 Valley Center Road, hosted the first meeting for the Honorary Mayor's race. Each candidate is sponsored by a Valley Center non-profit service organization of which the candidate is a member.

"This is not only a great fundraising event for a scholarship that will go to a local high school student, but also a fundraising opportunity for every organization that has entered a candidate," said Scott Harmes, Valley Center Chamber Mayor's Race Coordinator.

The candidates this year are: Larry McKenzie representing Valley Center Community Aide Group; John Yeager representing Valley Center Chamber of Commerce; Bobbie Weiss representing Valley Center Women's Club; Marcia Townsend representing Valley Center Republican Women Federated; Oklahoma Francis and Julie Picot of the Valley Center Vaqueros; The Hermit of Hell Hole of the Friends of Hell Hole Canyon; Denette Stewart representing Valley Center Rotary; Sharon Briscoe of Valley Center Relay For Life; and Marian Klein representing Friends of the Library.

A weekly series of Honorary Mayor's race challengers will take place every Wednesday in April from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Vineyard. It is a rain or shine event.

The first showdown featured McKenzie challenged by Yeager. Mingling among supporters and event attendants while munching on hors d'oeuvres, the two mayoral hopefuls took the opportunity to exercise friendly rivalry jousting. Yeager explained why he decided to run for VC Honorary Mayor.

"I'll tell you why I'm running – because Greg Carlson, President of the Chamber, brow beat me into doing it. I kept saying no, no, no. Finally, to get him to stop, I said I would run," said Yeager. "My platform is I'm giving away mortgage daddy bucks. If I get elected that will be legal tender in Valley Center."

Yeager's opponent, McKenzie had one major objective competing for the title.

"I think I'm the best candidate. It's all about beating John Yeager," McKenzie said. "I'm the anti-candidate. If Yeager wins, we're doomed. It's all downhill from there." McKenzie explained he found out that he was running when his name was announced at the Irish Stew Cook-off.

The VC Community Aide Group that McKenzie represents was started by a group of real estate professionals who have been donating $100,000 in scholarship awards to the high school for the past 10 years. McKenzie's group is utilizing the event for fund raising for Katherine Nyberg, a VC teacher recently recovering from a car accident. The group was started by the same people who organized the fundraising efforts for the 2003 VC fire devastation. All the money collected by the group is 100 percent donated to charitable causes. There are no costs, office, or overhead expenses.

"We foot all the bills ourselves," said McKenzie. "We are one cog in the wheel. This is Valley Center, not LA or Encinitas where nobody knows anybody."

McKenzie summed up the good-natured tone of the fund-raising event in the guise of a mayor's race.

"I put five dollars in John Yeager's bucket by mistake and now he won't let me have it back," said McKenzie.

In the following weeks, the other candidates will challenge McKenzie announcing their platforms. On May 23, a representative from each sponsored organization will present a check in the amount of campaign funds raised to the Western Days Treasurer. A token will then be placed in a barrel for every $100 raised. The current Honorary Mayor will select one token and the candidate on the winning ticket will be named the Honorary Mayor of Valley Center. All monies raised by the groups will go back to the organizations represented, aside from 10 percent which will go toward the Jack Vosberg Community Service Scholarship. A committee comprised of Honorary Mayoral candidates will select essays submitted by graduating seniors of VC High School to determine scholarship recipients.

The selected Honorary Mayor is mayor for one year, but holds no official power aside from riding in a place of honor in the Western Days Parade on May 24.

"So watch for candidates campaigning around town and support them with your generous campaign contributions," said Harmes.

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