When Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’ transition team resumes work later this month, at least five members with ties to northwest Florida will be on board.
Made up of about 200 Floridians from all walks of life – the team is charged with ‘ensuring the most critical functions of state government operate as they should, with transparency and accountability," according to a news release from the new governor. The next meeting is set for December 28, ahead of DeSantis’ inauguration on January 8.
“I think that’s probably subject to some change; and then there will be a call and another meeting will likely come about between the 28th and the eighth of January,” said former state Rep. Clay Ingram, who’s on the Government Operations Committee. “It will be a lot of work in a short period of time.”
As a lawmaker, Ingram chaired the House Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations Committee.
“I think a basic understanding of state government – how it works – and then a little bit more intimate knowledge of the processes and how the internals work I think was probably the reason I got that call [to join the transition],” said Ingram. “I’m excited to get to work.”
Ingram – currently President of the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce –points to a healthy representation of the western Panhandle on the transition team.
“Me in that transition role; Keith Hoskins for Gulf Power, and Dr. Ed Meadows from Pensacola State College,” said Ingram. “It’s really good that the Panhandle will be looked out for; when the opportunity comes up for staffing that we’ll be able to make suggestions and that sort of thing.”
Meadows is on the education and workforce development committee, which is tasked with developing a plan for the education to pursue good jobs. One example of that was the announcement in October, that PSC had joined “Pathway USA” – a collaborative program between selected colleges, and the University of South Alabama.
“This is a special day for students, a good day for students; we join a host of other state and community colleges that’s helping create a seamless transition to the university for our transfer students who wish to earn a baccalaureate degree,” said Meadows.
“Once the student has completed the necessary coursework at USA then [they can] reverse transfer those credits back to Pensacola State,” Meadows says. “So, this articulation agreement – like the recent agreements we are signing – has reverse transfer in it.”
Another aforementioned member is Keith Hoskins. The retired Navy captain and former commander of NAS Pensacola joined Gulf Power in 2016; his transition committee is studying five key economic areas.
“We’re looking at fiscal policy; regulatory policy, infrastructure, workforce training, and also economic development,” said Hoskins. “To provide information to the transition team that will later be given to staff.”
The team already has held three meetings since DeSantis’ election. Hoskins points to one example of the information that’s been submitted.
“Each of the committee members received documents on state budgets and regulatory policies and projections,” Hoskins said. “And we would actually bring in professional speakers to establish that baseline for us to formulate our conversations, and our recommendations moving forward.”
After a very hotly-contested gubernatorial campaign, one concern many observers have is how to keep politics out of the transition process. Hoskins says when he looks around the table, he does not see political figures.
“These are business leaders; citizens of Florida that care about the state of Florida,” insisted Hoskins. “This is purely from a state perspective on how we can increase economic vitality; make those economic policy recommendations to the [DeSantis] administration which we’ll be set in place January 8th.”
Other local leaders on the commission includes a father and son duo — former state senate president Don Gaetz and Cong. Matt Gaetz. The elder Gaetz will serve on the education and workforce advisory committee; the younger is one of the team’s four co-chairs.
Anyone interested in working for the new administration can visit www.DesantisTransition.com to submit resumes and applications.