First Female Hispanic Lieutenant Governor of Florida
By: María Alejandra Pulgar
@marialepulgar – NAHJ #37172
DORAL, FL – “My passion is my community and giving back to my community, working on the issues that are important” expressed Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez, the first Hispanic Female to serve on that position in the State of Florida.
As the running mate of Governor Ron DeSantis, Nuñez played a key role during the campaign, representing important minorities in the Republican gubernatorial ticket that ultimately brought them to replace Rick Scott in Tallahassee, after winning a very tight election.
Responsible and dedicated in all areas of her life, Núñez has been working in public service since 2010 when she was elected State Representative for District 112th, which included the City of Doral.
Since then, she has been involved in working to provide the community with resources to solve important issues like “child safety and wellbeing, which are something I have always been passionate about both personally and professionally.”
A mother of three children, a girl, and two boys, she credits the support of her family as one of the main factors that allowed the success of her career, both as a professional and as politician.
Wife, mother, executive, politician, public servant; Jeanette Núñez approaches all roles with responsibility, passion, and dedication, making her a role model for women and girls, especially Hispanics in the community.
Advocating for difficult issues and empowering girls
Issues related to the protection of children, especially girls and women, have always been a focus of Núñez’s work. She served on the board of Kristi House, an “organization dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse, and also on the Statewide Human Trafficking Council board.”
“Those issues are very important to me as a mother and as a policymaker, because I think those are topics that we do not like to talk about, because they are so dark and so ugly, because it is very difficult to even understand the horrors that happen to young girls and young boys, both on sexual abuse, human trafficking, and commercial sexual exploitation. Obviously, as a mom anything that has to do with children is very important to me front and center” explained Núñez.
As a policymaker, she has the chance to work on issues that affect not only women but everyone in the State and considers that finding solutions provides more opportunities for women to thrive and advance.
Núñez is passionate about working to provide the best quality education to all children in the State and especially for girls and young women, “making sure that in particular girls have an environment where they can thrive in and excel”.
She explains that working in politics, especially in higher offices in Tallahassee or Washington, is more challenging for women due to the high amount of travel and time that have to be devoted to the job, which makes it difficult oftentimes for women who are mothers, or have other family responsibilities to make the decision to run for office. However, “this year both in Congress and in Tallahassee we saw a record number of women running and winning office.” Times are definitely changing and Núñez is part of that change.
“I think that it is important that girls understand, and that is something I take very personal in my role, that they have an opportunity to reach the highest levels of any industry, whether it is business or politics, and whether or not they feel that it is a right fit for them, as long as they are passionate and work hard”, affirmed Núñez.
Prioritize and delegate: keys to balance work and life
Núñez considers her mom, who at 82 still works on import and export, her main role model “in terms of passion and dedication. She has always been a great mom and a great grandmother too. She helps me with my kids and I am greatly appreciative.”
As a mother of three children between the ages of 20 and 12, Núñez has relied on the support over the years of her husband, her parents and her in-laws to balance family, work and public service.
“It is important that you prioritize and delegate. When you are a young mom you want to be perfect and you want everything to be amazing. You have to come to a point in your life where you really put emphasis in what is really important. I always tell myself ‘when you are with them, be present’ because they need your attention and they want your focus, and they want individualized attention. We really try to balance work/life which is I think one of the biggest challenges for working women.”
“Ultimately your children, they benefit of seeing you on leadership roles on politics or business, it sets a good example, a role model, especially for girls, but it also comes with a price, because sometimes you are not able to be at all their events or going with them to field trips. I think I have been able to manage, somewhat well, but much due to the assistance of my parents and my in-laws.”
Her children are proud of having her serving as Lt. Governor of Florida, although at the beginning they were not too thrilled because she needs to travel more. However, they are now very excited and support her on her task, especially her oldest son who “loves politics. I can see him at some point following my footsteps.”
“There is strength on being compassionate and helpful”
Over her years in service Núñez, a Republican, has had the chance to work with women in both sides of the aisle on important issues, achieving results by focusing on finding a middle ground and passing legislation that provides solutions for the people and open paths for more solutions in the future.
“I have always worked in a manner that I am willing to listen to people, I have always had an open door. At the end of the day what matters is your passion for public service. We may not agree on everything, and I have my set of beliefs and principles that guide me in my work and they have theirs, but I think ultimately, everyone that runs for office comes from a good place. […] I respect everyone, and I expect the same in return.
“I am happy to work with all women to create good policies that provide more opportunities and more women involved in politics. I think that is a goal we all have, whether they are republican, democrats or independent, it doesn’t matter. I want to push for policies that are going to provide more opportunities for women, not only to serve but to get involved, that is very important. As a mother of a young girl I want to make sure she has no limits in the future.”
She has been fortunate to have worked with good leaders, men, and women, who have been respectful and supportive on her professional and political career. However, she is aware that is not the case for many women.
Núñez considers she is a strong woman in terms that she has a strong faith and cares “for people that are vulnerable. I always try to think what I can do to make the situation better for others, especially for those who have no voice. I think strength is something different for everyone, but I think there is strength on being compassionate and helpful to others.”
In Florida possibilities are endless
Jeanette Núñez was considering taking a break from public office when Ron DeSantis reached out to ask her to consider being his running mate for the Florida gubernatorial race. She felt honored and after a lot of thought, prayers and discussions with her family and others who encouraged her, she made the decision, because DeSantis “made it very appealing to me from the standpoint of all the great things he wanted to accomplish.”
“Being part of that ticket allowed me to join him and to articulate our message and our vision and I think it made a difference. I am very glad that I made the decision to join him. It was a tremendous honor; it is a privilege to be the first Hispanic Female Lieutenant Governor. And I take that privilege with a tremendous sense of responsibility.”
“I think that it is important as a woman, no matter what role you have, to show young girls and boys that we have limitless opportunities to do what we want, with passion and dedication, it is a source of pride and responsibility.”
“In the State of Florida, the possibilities are endless. I think we have a very bright future ahead of us as a State, and that holds true for both male and female residents of Florida. There are a lot of great things that the State has to offer, like low taxes, climate, environment; we are such a unique State.”
“And Doral is such a unique city in Florida. It has a lot to offer; it is a microcosm of everything that is great with the State, you have it all” said Núñez.
“Doral has too much to offer as a central, focal point in our County, a County that has grown tremendously. I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to represent the State of Florida, but I always have a special place in my heart for the areas that I have grown up in, and spent quite a bit of time in, whatever I can do to further the interests and opportunities for Doral residents they have a friend in me.”