THE P ROCESS would have said you’re crazy,” says the 33-year-old father of three. “But when I had my son, that changed everything.” And after four years, he decided he wanted to take what he learned while serving on the Duval County School Board and apply it to the Florida Legislature.
An engineer by trade, Fischer is hoping to spend his time in Tallahassee looking at ways to make Florida more attractive to the manufacturing sector through reducing tangible property taxes and regulations. He says he’d also like to look at ways to enhance the state’s transportation network, making sure it’s sustainable for years to come. “I really enjoy public service,” he says.
REPUBLICAN REP. PAUL RENNER, HOUSE DISTRICT 24
REPUBLICAN REP. JASON FISCHER, HOUSE DISTRICT 16
A third-generation Floridian, Jason Fischer got into politics the same way so many firsttime politicians do: He ran for school board. But that might be where the similarities end. The Jacksonville native’s first campaign for school board was backed by former Gov. Jeb Bush, former Speaker Will Weatherford, and current Speaker Richard Corcoran. He spent four years on the school board advocating for school choice, increasing the number of students taking advantage of options offered to them; taking a closer look at spending; and helping push the county to start thinking about education differently. “If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I would be on the school board, I
100 | INFLUENCE SPRING 2017
with with somebody from Pensacola. They met when he was in law school at Southern Methodist University, started a family together and made a life in Dallas. When they found out they were pregnant with twins, they decided it was time to start thinking about where they wanted to be for the long haul. “I grew up around a lot of family and she did as well, and we had neither in Dallas,” says White. “We had wonderful friends, a church we loved, but we didn’t have family.” So in 2010, they packed their bags and moved across the country. It was “absolutely the right decision,” and one that would help launch the now 38-year-old’s political career. The chief financial officer and general counsel for his family’s car dealerships in Pensacola, White says he is deeply interested in health care policy. He’ll get a chance to put that interest to work in the coming years, scoring appointments to the House Health & Human Services Committee, Health Innovation Subcommittee, and Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. You also can watch for White to file legislation aimed at encouraging free enterprise and free market approaches. He says he hopes to file a bill aimed at the cottage food industry, which would remove “unnecessary regulations that hurt entrepreneurs.” White, who benefited from a game of political dominoes in Northwest Florida, faced no primary opposition in 2016, and, unlike many of the members of his freshman classmates, sailed to an easy victory in November. That’s allowed him more time to craft his approach to lawmaking, and prepare himself for the frenzy of session. “It’s been like drinking from a fire hose,” says White. “But if you like policy and you like people, this is Disney World.”
REPUBLICAN REP. FRANK WHITE, HOUSE DISTRICT 2
A native Texan, the story of how Frank White found himself living in the Florida Panhandle is a simple one: He fell in love
If Paul Renner had to pick one word to describe himself, it might just be “principled.” Chat with the Palm Coast Republican long enough, and you’ll notice he regularly sprinkles it throughout his conversations. And it’s why he decided to run for office in the first place, because he felt that the country was moving away from the “foundational principles that … made us the strongest, freest, and most prosperous country in history.” First elected in a 2015 special election, Renner is in a unique position. He knows where everything is, the breakneck speak of session, and has even had a bill become a law. But he’s still considered one of the new guys on the block, trying to figure out the ins and outs of Tallahassee. >>
PHOTOS: Mark Wallheiser
eligible condition for workers’ comp.” Smith says he’s been in discussions with the Attorney General’s office about how it administered benefits through the Victim’s Compensation Fund when it responded to Pulse. He says he has some ideas about how the state can make the fund “better and stronger and more available to victims of crime.” He also filed a bill with Sen. Linda Stewart to ban the sale of civilian versions of military assault weapons. Smith isn’t planning to just focus on issues that arose from the shooting during his time in office. With five colleges and universities in his district, Smith says he wants to make higher education — particularly making it affordable to more people — a top priority. And while he knows he is a “LGBT, feminist, liberal in a very conservative Florida Legislature,” he says he hasn’t let that get in the way of his effectiveness in the past. He’s reached across the aisle to neutralize bills in the past, and says he takes a “Reagan-era” approach to politics, making friends with Republicans and working together, even when they don’t always see eye to eye. “Even though I’m a leader in the Democratic Party, I am an advocate in this work before I am a party person,” he says. “If finding a commonsense, reasonable Republican lawmaker to sponsor legislation, for example, that I believe and that I support increases the likelihood of those bills passing, then we want to find those Republicans, and we want to ask them to sponsor legislation that will help improve the lives of everyday Floridians whether that be gun safety, LGBT equality, or reforming the criminal justice system. I want Republicans to file these bills because that increases the likelihood of passage. It doesn’t matter whose name is on it to me. I’m an advocate in this work and I care about the issues.”