Florida Senate Elects 86th President

Photo by JhaRonte James

The Florida Senate appointed Sen. Andy Gardiner as its new president. Gardiner, 45, succeeds Rep. Sen. Don Gaetz, from Niceville, Fla.

The Senate is comprised of 40 members, the newly elected president is one of the Senate’s 26 republicans. Republicans are dominating the Senate Chamber.

Rep. Sen. Garrett Richter of Naples was elected the President Pro Tempore.

The Orlando native Gardiner is a 1992 graduate of Stetson University with a bachelors degree in political science and psychology. The Senator is also vice president of External Affairs and Community Relations for Orlando Health. He served in the House of Representatives in 2002 before he was elected to the Senate in 2008.

During the Organizational Session, Sen. Gardiner’s wife, Camille, and their three children Andrew, Joanna and Kathryn accompanied him on the chamber floor.

Among the Senators was Gov. Rick Scott and Rep. Sen. John Thrasher. Thrasher is the only senator who is not returning to the Senate, he resigned shortly after becoming president at Florida State University.

Sen. Gaetz acknowledged Rep. Sen. Rene Garcia as he motioned to formally nominate Senator Gardiner.

“It truly is an honor and privilege to be here today to nominate a friend, Andy Gardiner as Senate President for 2014-2016 session,” Gaetz said.

Garcia presented a video composed of testimonials from Sen. Gardiners: friends, family, coach, and his sixth-grade teacher. Everyone in the video attested to Gardiner’s character and his commitment to family.

“The Senate is in really good hands folks.” Garcia professes. He humbly adds, “The State of Florida is in incredible hands, because Senator Gardiner will put families first – before politics – and that’s what we need in the Senate and the State of Florida.”

After the eruption of applause calmed, Gaetz acknowledged Democrat Sen. Christopher Smith. Sen. Smith seconded the motion to nominate Gardiner as President.

“The thing that makes Andy special is the servant aspect of that – the servant leadership,” said Sen. Smith.  “As President of the Senate he’s going to need that leadership.”

Sen. Smith said, “He [Gardiner] realizes we all want the same thing for Florida, It’s going to take that love of a servant leader to get us there.”

Smith said, “I am honeymoon happy and Peacock proud, to nominate my good friend… Andy Gardiner as President of the senate.”

Rep. Sen. Bill Galavano motioned that all motions for nominations for President of the Florida Senate be closed. The Secretary of the Senate, Debbie Brown, called the roll for each Senator to voice their vote by saying “Andy Gardiner,” when called.

By unanimous decision, Gardiner was named the 86th President of the Florida Senate.

Gardiner and his family stood proudly before the Senate as he recited the Senate Oath of Office. Immediately, Gaetz beckoned Gardiner to receive the Senate gavel and he formally announced Gardiner as President.

In a prepared speech Gardiner notes, “Our challenge is to remain deliberative and to responsibly plan for Florida’s future.”

Gardiner said, “The work does not stop when we leave Tallahassee. We need to be working on issues, talking with constituents and drafting bills. As I said, when we return in January, we will hit the ground running.”

“I look forward to beginning this journey with you and thank you again for the tremendous honor of serving as your Senate President,” Gardiner said.