BioFirst, let me say what an honor it is to be your representative in Congress. While this may be a “digital” introduction, I really look forward to having a chance to meet with you in person and to hear your views on where this country should be headed. In the meantime, let me take just a minute to tell you bit about who I am and where I come from.
I was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago. My father was a steel worker and my mother, a dedicated homemaker. And while not without its ups and downs, I was mighty lucky to grow up in a time when America was at her best.
Right out of high school, I joined the Illinois Air National Guard. And as anybody who has spent time in America’s military can tell you, young people inevitably learn the value of leadership, teamwork, discipline, and self-reliance. My experience as a young man was no different. Honorably discharged after six years, I decided to continue serving as a police officer in the city of Romeoville, Illinois.
After twelve years, having achieved the rank of sergeant, my wife Wendy and I moved with our young son Ryan to beautiful Hernando County. I joined the Sheriff’s Office as a deputy and have been with them ever since. Over the years, I worked hard and rose through the ranks - eventually becoming Sheriff in 2000.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty-six years since we came to Florida. All three of our boys, Ryan, Kyle, and Casey are now grown and as a Dad, I couldn’t be prouder of them. Ryan, our oldest, graduated West Point in 2004. Having spent a year in South Korea before a 15 month combat deployment in Afghanistan, he is now a Captain and Company Commander in the 82nd Airborne. Before finishing his tour in Afghanistan, he signed up for three more years.
Kyle, his younger brother, is an Army ROTC graduate of the University of Tampa. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Reserves this summer and is off to a fine start. And Casey, our youngest, is also following in his brothers’ footsteps. He recently graduated West Point in the spring and is now a Second Lieutenant with the 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley.
As parents, it means the world to us to see our children putting service before self. Wendy and I have always emphasized the importance of service - to whom much is given, much is expected. We believe that as Americans, we owe it to future generations to make the sacrifices necessary so that this country will always be the greatest on earth.
Throughout my career a police officer, I have seen the best and worst in our community. I know the great potential that lies there. My wife Wendy, as a school teacher, believes the same. Our experiences have shown us that the best solutions in our communities will come from small business owners, local leaders, and private citizens - all working together; not, as some believe, from the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington.
In my view, a government for the people and by the people, must be made up of the people. The best representative is a member of the community first, and a Member of Congress second. In keeping with that ideal, I promise you that I will always be available and ready to listen. I will always come back to the District because it’s my home and that’s where my family is. I hope that you will always feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or concerns, or even just to say hello. In the meantime, I wish you all the best and I hope to meet you soon.