I have deep roots in Leon County and am a product of being raised by hard-working and loving parents here. I grew up in this community and attended Leon County public schools from K-12 attending Sabal Palm and Astoria Park Elementary Schools, Bellevue Middle School, and ultimately graduating from Godby High School. I was blessed to attend and play college baseball at Chipola Junior College and obtain an athletic scholarship at Florida Atlantic University where I completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. My educational and professional achievements could not have happened without the support and personal sacrifice of my parents.
I am the proud son of a local electrician and a Leon County School teacher of over 30 years. Our family grew up in the “32304” zip code in a two-bedroom trailer off of Highway 90 until I was 10 years old; through my parents’ hard work and personal sacrifice, our family graduated to the “32303” zip code in the Astoria Park neighborhood where our family lived for over 45 years. The compassionate but tough love instilled by my parents developed a set of core values that drive me every day and are the foundation for why I am running for the Leon County Commission. Chief among those core values are unconditional integrity and a relentless work ethic.
Over the past 30 years, I have worked with and for the John Scott Dailey Florida Institute of Government (IOG) rising from a graduate research assistant in the late 1980s to being named in 2003 as only the second Executive Director since the Florida Legislature created the Institute in 1980. I have spent my entire career working with local governments across Florida to help them develop professional staff and agency operations capable of serving their communities with excellence always as the standard; understand and prioritize the importance of building authentic and trusting relationships with their residents; lead initiatives with public and private sector partners to diversify and grow local and regional economies, and spearhead efforts for developing and sustaining targeted and diverse pipelines of workforce talent that can attract and produce living and high-wage job opportunities. During this time, I have had the privilege and honor of serving with and learning from distinguished mentors including former Florida Governor Reubin Askew, Dr. John Scott Dailey (founding Executive Director), Dr. Robert Bradley (former Vice President at FSU), Dr. John DeGrove, and Dr. Lance deHaven-Smith, among many others. I believe the practical experiences and diversity of projects over the past 30 plus years—almost all of which have focused on local governments and the communities they serve–have prepared me well to not only serve as a County Commissioner but also provide vision and leadership for our community.
Since 2009, I have also served as the Executive Director for the North Florida Economic Development Partnership (NFEDP)— a jobs and growth-focused organization comprised of 14 counties in North Central Florida. The NFEDP serves this region as a designated Rural Area of Opportunity (RAO) that is empowered by the Executive Office of the Governor. The NFEDP has been a catalyst for generating nearly $200 million dollars in private capital investment, nearly $60 million in state and federal infrastructure improvements, and nearly 500 private-sector jobs. As Executive Director for the NFEDP I have provided direct expertise and services, as well as facilitated external public and private sector expertise on a range of challenges affecting local governments, their key community partners, and the communities they serve. Some of these challenges include (1) planning for and developing adequate infrastructure to address anticipated growth; (2) developing laser-focused target industries for business recruitment and expansions that maximize community assets; (3) balancing (and integrating) business/industry growth with preferred community character; (4) addressing crime and reducing poverty; and (5) developing a world-class pipeline of workforce talent diverse enough for every resident in the community.
I want to bring this experience, expertise, and work ethic to the Leon County Commission as a means for serving our community. As a candidate for the Leon County Commission, I promise to never stop learning and listening in my pursuit to best represent our community. I’ll apply my experience and knowledge to the job every day and always work to better understand the perspective of my fellow citizens. I hope to earn your trust, respect, and support over the course of my campaign.