Best of the Bay

Election 2004: The Tampanian Candidate

Friends, Comrades, Fellow Americans: We here at the Planet have known the Tampanian Candidate, Sen. Blake Pearson, literally all his life. (He's considerably younger than he looks — and every bit as slippery.) And we're pleased to endorse him for yet another term because he's promised to introduce special tax breaks for alternative newspapers and the starving journalists they spawn. Pearson is a champion of free enterprise, he loves puppies and liberty, he touches our young people and stands tall against our many enemies, real and imagined.

We kicked off Blake's fake campaign — and our very real Best of the Bay party — at our new West Tampa corporate offices in August. Photos from that event are strewn throughout this issue. A very special thanks goes to photographer Rob Adamo who leapt to our rescue when Sean Deren ended up in the hospital the day before the party. Rob brought his own special eye and twisted sense of humor to the job at hand, as you'll see in the following pages.

Major applause goes to Jobsite Theatre actors David Jenkins, Chris Holcom, Shawn Paonessa, Kevin Spooner and Katrina Stevenson for brilliant portrayals of secret service agents, provocateurs and tarts. Many thanks also to Sen. Pearson's lovely bride, Millicent, a.k.a. Ryan Morris, who has the fashion sense of Jackie O and the dom authority of Barbara Bush, and to Amy Demilo for doing her hair and makeup. Thanks also to Damien Lehfeldt for suffering her affection and to Thomas Sanderson for bringing the zeal of a true whack job to his assassination attempt on the Senator. Much gratitude to the entire Planet staff for making protest signs and baking outside under a furious sun in the "free speech" zone. And of course, there would be no Blake Pearson without Brother Eric Snider — a total ham and a good sport — for bringing just the right amount of polish and smarmitude to his character.

Thanks also to our marvelous writers and pundits, who endured hundreds of hours of arts, entertainment and sporting events, meals, drinks, and other diversions in the name of research — and then typed their fingers to the bone: Eric Snider, RhondaK, Kelli Kwiatkowski, Leilani Polk, David Warner, Scott Harrell, Diana Peterfreund, Mark Leib, Lance Goldenberg, Adrienne Golub and David Bramer. Big ups to interns Joe Bardi, Meredith Yeomans, Whitney Meers and Damien Lehfeldt for counting ballots, proofreading copy and researching, writing and fact-checking content.

A big shout-out to the photographers, who fanned out over the area, chasing down elusive people and shooting our favorite spots: Carrie Waite, Valerie Murphy, Sherrie St. James, Noeland Collins, Mollie Bess, Shannen Clark, and Todd Richardson. Thanks also to designers Jason Hatcher and John Yardley for putting it all together and making it look so good.

Major thanks to General Manager Amber Abram and Efficiency Goddess Amanda Cramer for magically making everything happen — from electronic ballot tabulating to party planning. Thanks to the entire sales staff for bringing home the bacon and working hard on the party — especially Anthony Carbone and James Howard and their talented pals at International Academy of Design and Technology. And most of all, thanks to the amazing Kelli K, the serene eye at the center of the storm, who organized the hundreds of details that go into an issue like this while still managing to do her other work and even research and write plenty of stuff herself.

And finally, thanks to our advertisers. Sen. Pearson assures us that their support of his candidacy will provide them with back-door access to his office and opportunities to draft all legislation that affects their industry. (Their ads also earn them cutting privileges in the long line of people waiting to bitch out the editor for not giving them a Best of the Bay award.) And our biggest thanks of all goes to you, our readers, the Best People in Tampa Bay, our fellow citizens who love this place as much as we do, and who vociferously participate in the discourse. It has been a pleasure to entertain, inform and exasperate you.

Susan Edwards
Contributing Editor

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