The 2017 legislative session is in motion next week. Former Florida A&M University Student Government Association President Ramon Alexander, is preparing to represent his alma mater for the first time in the Florida House of Representatives.
Elected to represent District 8, under the Democratic Party, in November, Alexander is preparing for his inaugural session.
“One of my main priorities is to make sure that we articulate the core mission and value of Florida A&M University,” Alexander said. “The university has several very important appropriation projects that we’ll be focusing on, to ensure that we get those funds approved.”
Alexander said the state is currently going through a budget exercise where there are proposed cuts across the board in the Legislature. These cuts are going to be discussed in the upcoming 60-day session as lawmakers prepare a budget for the coming fiscal year. He said it is incumbent on members to fight for their projects particularly in the realm of education.
“I have serious concerns that we must hold the line in regard to protecting K-12 funding, our community college funding and of course our state university funding as well,” Alexander added.
Alexander said one goal is to get a $20 million request for the second phase of funding for the student affairs building on FAMU’s campus. The new student affairs building is set to be constructed on Wahnish Way, just north of Gaither Gym.
This is a main concern in the upcoming session for the 32-year-old state representative. Alexander said he is humble to serve the citizens in the district. As a graduate of Florida A&M, he said it is personal to him to be a voice for the institution.
“I love helping people and I see the political arena as one vehicle to do that,” Alexander said. “I’ve been involved in my community since childhood and I see the impact that you can actually make if your intentions are good, your heart’s in the right place and you approach it with the right deal of commitment.”
As the session moves along, there will be a clearer understanding of how the state budget will play out. He said he works with a unique group of leaders who have been tasked with improving an $83 billion budget and establishing policy.
There are separate committees in the House focused on topics like criminal justice and juvenile reform, permitting second chances in crime cases and other issues.
In the Florida Legislature, there is a sense of bipartisanship when it comes to addressing conflicting issues, Alexander said.
“All issues aren’t Republican and Democrat.” “It is my job, representing my community, to establish those relationships, not coming to the process with preconceived notions,” Alexander said.
Alexander is no stranger to leadership roles. He believes there is no natural born leader. Instead, he said, leading is an acquired skill.
Alexander served as aide to former Tallahassee Mayor John Marks. He often went to meetings and briefed Marks, read materials and made sure Marks was organized.
“(Ramon) was very thorough, he could write well and speak well,” Marks said. “He knew the governmental process from a practical standpoint as opposed to just textbooks.”
Marks said he knew Alexander would inevitably do good things.
For his mother, Cherry Alexander, leadership has always been embedded Alexander’s character. In the first months of his young life, Alexander was quiet, but that trait soon came to an end.
“All of the sudden, it appeared that the world opened up to him,” Cherry Alexander said. “His vocabulary was outstanding and above what he should have been, all of that time he was soaking up everything.”
Cherry Alexander brought her children up in an environment filled with values and discipline. She said she often talked about integrity with her family.
At an impressionable age, Alexander was immersed in the culture of community service and giving. Cherry Alexander said whether it was Boy Scouts, church ushering or music ministry, her son was deeply involved.
Through the lens of a mother and mentor, Ramon Alexander has been relentless in pushing through any challenging obstacles. In a nationwide program, the American Legion Boys State, Cherry Alexander witnessed her son get through the highly selective admissions process. Young men who are knowledgeable in government are interviewed and selected.
“Ramon was selected in his ninth-grade year, which meant he had to be politically astute, and as far as minority kids, very fewer were getting in there at that time,” Cherry Alexander said. “Ramon has recruited so many students from FAMU, which means that they’re the cream of the crop.”
For a month earlier this year Alexander was in the transitioning process in the role of CEO of the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce. He said after recognizing his need to focus on the citizens he stepped down, not wanting to limit himself from advocating for his community.
“My goals are the same every single day, to help people every day, to build capacity in our community, to improve the quality of life and there are many ways to do that,” Alexander said.