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And The New Honorary Mayor Is…

OAKHURST – Candidates for the town’s Honorary Mayor position gathered Wednesday, July 10, as officials announced the winner of the season’s charity fundraising campaign.

Yosemite Bank in Oakhurst hosted the final event along with Oakhurst Sierra Sunrise Rotary and the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary Club.Brian Gearhart took first place in fundraising as candidate for the Eastern Madera County SPCA. Gearhart was presented with a certificate bestowing the honor upon him by last year’s winner John Burton, who also respresented the EMC SPCA, and has served as Honorary Mayor twice.

This is the third time in the past four years that the EMC SPCA candidate has claimed the title.

Honorary Mayor outgoing Burton hands over Mayoral duties to Brian Gearhart for 2013-14 Mayors Race in Oakhurst -- Photo by Tim MaddenThe Honorary Mayor campaign is sponsored each year by the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, with candidates given a 9-week window to raise the most money for their charities, and each dollar counting as a vote.

This year’s candidates raised a record-breaking total of $161,655, about $94,500 more than last year.

Participating organizations and their candidates were the Boys and Girls Club of Oakhurst (Kurtis Foster), the Children’s Museum of the Sierra (Steve Montalto), Mountain Area Ski School (Theresa Wilson) and the Oakhurst Community Center (Dale Miller).

Food for the evening was provided by the Noon and Sunrise Rotary, with a no-host bar. Organizers raffled off a host of items including an iPad, television, GPS system, $100 gift card, Blackberry Z10, an LG Escape, 7 nights of dining at local restaurants, and a 2-night stay at Stevenswood Resort.

2013 Kurtis BGC Mayor Logo squareThe Mayor’s race is truly a community event, and this year’s race was full of innovative and fun events put on by the five hard-working would-be Mayors, each a leader in his or her own way.

Veteran and single dad Kurtis Foster and his team sold tickets for the Great Kitchen Shutdown raffle, and hosted a series of great events including “Blues, Brews and BBQ” at Sierra Sky Ranch, all to bring the Oakhurst Boys and Girls Club some much needed financial support.


Children’s Museum Director Steve Montalto held a dinner at Crabcakes Restaurant as a fundraiser, along with a visit to the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, a carnival and other events.

The teams for Montalto and Foster got together to hold a family movie night at the Met Cinemas, with a benefit showing of Wreck It Ralph. All the profits from the evening were donated to the campaigns by the Movie Heroes at the Met.

Theresa Wilson runs for Honorary Mayor on behalf of MASS - Photo Courtesy Theresa WilsonTheresa Wilson and her group, the Yosemite Sierra Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors, organized a special showing of the melodrama Dark Deeds at Swan’s Place at the Golden Chain Theater and had a great night out fundraising at the Queen’s Inn, with Mountain Area Ski School as the beneficiary.

Community Center rep Dale Miller put together some memorable events including a golf tournament and a night out at the Golden Chain Theater with dinner included.

Dale Miller for Honorary MayorFundraising events for the EMC SPCA included bake sales at True Value Hardware in Oakhurst, and an Evening of Whine and Noses, hosted by Gearhart at Western Sierra Nursery.

The EMC SPCA is getting closer to its dream of opening a new shelter, the first of its kind in the area, on Highway 49 in Ahwahnee. Plans are available for viewing here.

The position of Honorary Mayor of Oakhurst comes with some ribbon-cutting duties and lots of bragging rights, plus the satisfaction of having raised significant sums of money for the candidate’s charity.

Go to the EMC SPCA Website

Visit the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce website


  1. Soooooo the SPCA raised over $100,000 from a dinner and bake sales? Must have been some good muffins.

  2. Sharon Fitzgerald

    Thanks to Brian and all of the generous animal lovers who donated to Brian’s campaign. The EMCSPCA has been working on this project since we incorporated in 1990. With a lot of years of hard work and supporting other important projects along the way (spay/neuter assistance and feral cat trap/neuter/return to name a couple)we are finally reaching that point where the shovel will go in the ground! We are so grateful to the community for believing in this project and being willing to volunteer and offer financial support. Without people like Brian and our supporters, we would not be where we are today. Thanks for being a voice for the animals.

    Sharon Fitzgerald, President EMCSPCA

  3. Concerned Citizen

    The money raised for the SPCA could have funded the Children’s Museum for four years, not to mention the hundreds of local kids it could have sent on field trips, which are no longer funded through the school budgets. Newsflash: many people are NOT happy with the outcome the past three out of four years. Time to rethink the Mayoral Race.

  4. How much money does the SPCA need to build a shelter? We keep hearing that they’re close, yet there’s no shelter. I think it’s time they show the public where all their money is going. Any other entity could have already broken ground if not completely built with what they’ve “raised” over the past few years.

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