The Phoenix Flyer

A glimpse of two key women in the new DeSantis governorship

By: - January 7, 2019 12:40 pm
Florida Phoenix

On the day before Ron DeSantis’s inauguration as governor Tuesday, soon-to-be First Lady Casey DeSantis, and elected Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez made clear that they’ll play active roles in the DeSantis-Nuñez administration.

The two women spoke Monday morning at a “tribute” breakfast highlighting “Women Transforming Florida,” and later took questions from reporters. The event is part of two days of programs and festivities leading up to the inauguration of the 46th governor.

Asked by reporters about what issue Casey DeSantis might tackle, the upcoming First Lady said, “I’d like to pick more than one. I want to do whatever that I can to support the people of the great state of Florida. So I really look forward to listening.”

She added, “What I want to do is approach this with humility. I don’t know all the answers out of the gate, so I want to listen…I want to be able to help in any way that I can to really move the ball forward for people of this state.”

DeSantis specifically mentioned her passion about “cleaning up the water in the state of Florida.” When asked about more specific plans in this area, she said, “Stay tuned. We’re gonna be busy.”

For Nuñez , the Tuesday inauguration makes her the highest-ranking Hispanic woman elected in Florida history. She told reporters that in her discussions with Ron DeSantis on the campaign trail, it became clear that she expects to play an active role in helping govern the state and that her role will continue to evolve.

She said she plans to work very closely with Governor DeSantis on several issues.

In speech at the breakfast event, Nuñez  mentioned job growth, keeping taxes low, protecting water quality, and making sure kids have access to best education possible. She said she anticipates diving into education matters.

Nuñez  also said she wants to “encourage young girls and women to follow their dreams.”

On a more personal note, reporters asked whether the DeSantis family will live in the Florida Governor’s Mansion, and the answer was yes.

Ron DeSantis, 40, is a Harvard-trained attorney, Navy veteran and former Congressman who is some 25 years younger than his predecessor, Rick Scott, bringing political youthfulness to the state Capitol and the Florida Governor’s Mansion. He and his wife have two toddlers.

Casey DeSantis said Monday that, “It’s an honor and it’s a privilege” to live in the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. “But I’ll say this, two kids under the age of two in the mansion? The first thing I said was we need to take all of Florida’s irreplaceable historical artifacts and move them up four feet.”

She also referenced early 20th century wallpaper, fearing that “orange crayon wouldn’t look so good on that.”

“One of the first steps is to make sure that we baby-proof the mansion to preserve all of Florida’s history,” Casey DeSantis said.

“Ron and I understand, this is the people’s house, this is not our house …We want to make sure that people have the opportunity to see two young children growing up in the mansion. This is the first time that this has happened in 50 years. So, it’s an honor and we look forward to really sharing the kids with everybody.”

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.