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My Interview with House Speaker Dean Cannon

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Now that the session is over, everyone sort of studies what’s happened in the last few weeks of all the voting. This was my second year working as a page for the House of Representatives. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t really like it. This year, I knew my way around (which is a big accomplishment since there’s a lot of ways to get lost). My first day was probably the most exciting because I had scheduled interviews with House Speaker Dean Cannon followed by Senator Bob Graham. In addition to interviewing them, I had WCTV following me. While I did the interviews, they were doing a story on me - which was pretty cool.

House Speaker Dean Cannon was busy. I was still waiting outside his office 30 minutes after our interview appointment. He was probably the busiest guy in the capital. I was shown into his offices and he probably saw me looking at a big wall size TV. He explained even when he’s not in the room he needs to watch what’s going on with the House of Representatives.

Speaker Cannon is nice and we sit down.

Q. “Growing up- what did you like to do and did it help you to become a successful adult and with the job you do now?”

A. “Boy that’s a great question! I think my favorite things to do were to hang around my mom and dad. My dad was in the air force and my mom worked for the school system and they tried to teach me and make it fun to get involved in stuff in our community and I did all the normal kid stuff. I’d like to run around my grandfather’s farm. My dad grew up on a farm in Plant City and that sure gave me an appreciation for agriculture and I think having 2 parents that would spend time with me and make sure I had fun, trying to do fun things all along with doing normal kids things, helped me have an appreciation for that as a grown-up. Since I graduated college in law school, I saw politics as my opportunity to get involved and help people in my community- and it‘s worked out pretty well.”

Q. “Kids have lots of different obstacles they have to deal with. When you were a kid, what obstacle did you have and how did you deal with it?”

A. “Well, the fact that my dad was in the air force was one obstacle because we moved a lot and it’s hard being the new kid in class. Sometimes I think that was probably the toughest obstacle but I was very lucky I didn’t have many obstacles besides that while growing up and what I learned is that you have to learn to? That in life as a kid or growing up sometimes you have to deal with circumstances that you rather not deal with. But the most important thing is to have a good attitude if you have a positive attitude you can deal with almost anything.”

Q. “In school, you serves as a student body president - is that where you started to sort of like political issues?”

A. “Yes, actually when I was in high school, I was active in the student government things. Then also when I got into college, I did political stuff. I was very active in politics and that gave me an interest in maybe real political leadership.
And it’s kind of neat that now in state government a lot of my friends that I knew back in college are also now working here in Tallahassee so I think if you get that interest in high school or college, it certainly can carry through to your adulthood.”

Q. “I’ve watched your YouTube videos and you’re very articulate and comfortable in front of people - were you always that way?”

A. “Not at all! Really, I was very shy, real shy in elementary, junior high and most of high school and I think just like anything else, I think it’s like a sport- like learning to play a musical instrument. If you practice and talk in front of people a lot - you get more comfortable. I used to be very, very uncomfortable to talking in front of people but fortunately I’ve had more practice and I’m more comfortable now but I would say this…even now, if I was going to say something in front of the whole House or a group of reporters, you still get a little nervous because you care and you want to do a good job, but you can get more comfortable with a little practice.”

Q. “Any nervous or embarrassing moments?”

A. “Yes, I had a lot of nervous and embarrassing moments. I have nervous ones all the time; hopefully most of them are not embarrassing! More than anything, one of the things that make most public officials nervous, you want to thank the people that helped you and I’m always afraid I’ll miss thanking someone so I think that’ creates more nervousness, if you’re going to make an introduction to a group or thank a group of campaign supporters, you don’t want to leave anybody out because politics - it looks like an individual effort but it’s really a team effort. Every man and woman in the House has a ton of people - friends and family that helped them get there. I’m very lucky- I get to be the speaker of the House, but I have a ton of staff and people who helped me to do things to run the House and then I have great colleagues, so it’s very much a team effort and probably the most nervousness is that you are going to forget to thank somebody!”

Q. “You gave a speech and talked about civic rent - something that all of us owe, that you learned from your mom. What have you learned from civic rent?”

A. “Well, I learned that communities don’t happen by accident and what I mean is if it’s a town or region or a state that they get better or worse based on what people are willing to do. I think Florida is a great state I think Orlando and central Florida is a great region, but people have to work at it to make it that way and make it better and it takes a lot of effort from a lot of people in all levels. And not just in government. But in the arts and visual arts and education. We have great schools but we should make them better, we have great civic institutions but we should try to make them better, we should always improve ourselves…. So I think all branches, the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial branch should be trying to improve, so we can make Florida a better place.”


Q. “I asked the U.S. Senator Marco Rubio when he was running for office -
What would your kids say is the coolest thing about their dad, and what’s the uncoolest?”
A. [Laughing], I hope they would say that their dad loves them and loves to play with them. They would probably say the uncoolest is that their dad has to travel a lot and being away from home that’s been the toughest part by far - the hardest part of this job has made me be on the road and away from my wife and kids more than I would have liked and I went through that with my dad being in the air force and traveling a lot of his work and know that’s tough on the kids.”

I left the Capital and headed over to my next interview with former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham. The reporter from WCTV was with me and I started my interview with a Florida legendary leader.



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