Florida’s Leaders Share What They Are Thankful For

    This Thanksgiving, the East Orlando Post asked some of our region’s and state’s most consequential leaders what they were thankful for this holiday season.


    By Jacob Engels


    First, however, here are the the three things I am most thankful for.


    I am thankful for being surrounded by loyal, supportive, and tough-as-nails friends and clients. I am thankful for having the courage to expose corrupt, shameless, and downright deviant politicians who don’t think the law applies to them.


    In particular, State Attorney Jeff Ashton, who thought it wise to solicit extramarital affairs online and discuss his thirst for a partner with “an extensive toy collection.”


    Lastly, I am thankful for the health and vibrancy of one of my best friends… Jasper – my black labradoofle.


    Now, on to the people who actually matter!


    Roger Stone – Former top aide to President Nixon, Reagan, Bush. NYT best-selling author, and advisor to Donald Trump.


    I am thankful for robust health, great family, and that my newest book “The Clintons’ War On Women” is #1 on Amazon.


    Jeff Kottkamp – Former State Senator and Lt. Governor of Florida.


    Thankful for my awesome family, thankful for the gift of life, thankful to be a citizen of the greatest country in the history of mankind.


    Adam Putnam – Former Congressman and current Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.


    I am thankful for health, my family and the blessings our nation has received.


    Wade Vose – Partner at Vose Law Firm, General Counsel of the Orange County Charter Review Commission.


    Family. Friends. Freedom.


    Rebekah Hammond – Director of Marketing & Communications at Kyra Solutions, former top analyst for the Florida Department of Transportation.


    1.) Congestion on I-4: Few things remind me of how far we have come since the Great Recession than the congestion on I-4. More and more people are moving to Central Florida for the great weather and a rebounding jobs market. It’s easy to be frustrated in traffic that backs up for a mile with one little fender bender, but the $2 Billion project is a concrete (pardon the pun) reminder that the economy is bustling again. Cheers to low unemployment!


    2.) Thanksgiving Dinner – We are daily bombarded with health warnings on childhood obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Thanksgiving dinner is a hearty reminder that we live in a land of plenty and we should be thankful for all the food we do have, instead of complaining about having too much.


    3.) Appeals Courts – Because sometimes lower courts just get things wrong or need to be checked…and the American court system has a means to correct its own errors. That is one of the greatest blessings of America and one I am certainly thankful for.


    Sandy Adams – former Orange County Sheriffs Deputy, State Representative, Congresswoman and candidate for congress in Florida’s 6th district.


    I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful God has been with and guided me throughout my life. I’m thankful for my dad and so many other men & women who have fought for our great country.


    Justin York – Seminole County Soil & Water Supervisor, Lake Mary Planning and Zoning Board Member, Attorney at Lydecker Diaz.


    Friends and family, Game of Thrones, tax cuts.


    Timothy McKinney – CEO of United Global Outreach.


    Family, unconditional friendships, and the opportunity to serve others.


    Michelle Ertel – Political Analyst for News 13, former news publisher, and President of Florida Strategic Advisors governmental and public affairs firm.


    I am thankful for my husband, Michael, who loves and supports me even when I say and do things that induce an eye roll worthy of a 14-year-old teenager. I am thankful for my 2 children, Gillian, 19 and Zane, 21, have grown up into good humans. Both of them, though on separate life and career paths, are kindhearted, brave and decent.


    I am thankful for News 13, especially Gary Darling and John Handiboe, who took a chance on a former news reporter with a Pennsylvania accent and oh-so-sharp opinions to fill an on-air republican analyst position.


    Sean Ashby – Democratic activist and candidate for State House.


    1.  Family.  Thanksgiving is a time to thank those who stand by and support each other throughout the year.


    2.  Cooler weather for Thanksgiving.  Was I the only one who noticed that October was WAY too hot, even for Central Florida!


    3.  Donald Trump.  Thank you to “The Donald” for telling us what he would do and how he would treat people.  That way we know exactly what NOT to do.


    Scott Plakon – State Representative from Longwood, FL.


    1. This holiday season I’m thankful that, out of mercy and love, the Maker of heaven and earth sent his Son Jesus to earth to atone for our sins and that forgiveness and reconciliation is available to all that ask. Also, as a result, we get to have Christmas! smile emoticon


    2. I’m thankful that a such a beautiful, kind and loving woman like Susie Plakon would somehow choose me as her husband 30 years ago and for the wonderful family that we have as a result.


    3. I’m thankful for the opportunity to live in the greatest, most free and prosperous nation ever conceived and that I get to live and serve in the most beautiful and well run among the 50 states.


    Doug Kaplan – Owner of Gravis Marketing, nationally renowned polling and political research firm.


    Thankful for my child. The success we have had at Gravis in the last year. Being blessed to have been born and to live in the greatest country that has ever existed.


    Mike Shirley – President of Emerging Horizon Group.


    I am thankful for… good family and friends that look out for me, a great year so far, and new opportunities on the horizon.


    Chadwick Hardee – Entrepreneur, founder of The Couture Soap Company.


    My healthy children, my lovely wife, and my great friends.


    Dean Asher – Realtor, candidate for State Senate, and board member of the Orlando International Airport.


    Family, Friends and to live in a Great Country.


    Peter Schorsch – Publisher of Saintpetersblog, Florida Politics, Context Florida.


    My daughter Ella Joyce, my wife Michelle Todd, and second chances.


    Doug Guetzloe – Founder of Ax The Tax, anti-tax crusader, and nationally recognized GOP consultant.


    I am thankful for a family that loves me and the family that I love very much. I am thankful to be an American by the grace of God. I am thankful for the men and women of United States Armed forces that stand on that wall every day for all of us.


    Bob Cortes – Former Longwood City Commissioner & Mayor, current State Representative from Altamonte Springs.


    Definitely family, the honor to serve my community well and thankful for life.


    Peter Vivaldi – Faith leader, executive, former congressional candidate and rumored state house candidate.


    1). Grateful for family – without their support I wouldn’t had been able to achieve so much in 2015.


    2). True friends who bring the best out of me and have always encouraged me to never give up.


    3). Blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve so many in Central Florida and can’t wait for what awaits us in 2016.


    Mike Miller – Executive at Rollins College, State Representative from Winter Park, FL.


    1. My family, especially my dad who turned 80 last week.


    2. The support of my friends during this past year in the Florida Legislature.


    3. The opportunity to be involved in my community and make it a better place for everyone who lives or visits here!


    Michael Ertel – Seminole County Supervisor of Elections.


    My family, my work family — America’s Finest Elections Team, and my community family, who continue to trust me with one of the most vital functions of our republic — running fair, efficient and trusted elections.


    Anthony Aramendia – Casselberry City Commissioner and preservation activist.


    I am thankful for the projects I get to work on and the positive impact it has on so many people’s lives and the friends, family and citizens who support my endeavors doing so.


    Alex Vidal – Libertarian Activist


    The health of my family and son… and my friends Roger Stone & Bill Faloon.


    Micah Bass – Owner of the newly renovated and redesigned The M hotel and Revere Nightclub, formerly the Howard Johnson on I-DRIVE.


    Happiness, health, and the friendship of those closest to me.


    Gregory Eisenberg – Marketing Executive and candidate for Orange County Commission.


    1. My family who has always supported me, and stood behind me as I earned my degree, began my career, and as I continue fight for my neighbors in this great county.


    2. My beloved friends that I have met since coming to Orange County for college; this entire campaign was inspired by you.


    3. and UCF for giving me the education and memories that I cherish today, even this past football season. Charge on!


    Amy Ritter Valdivia – Former Communications Director for Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph.


    1. Family 2. My cat 3. A warm bed to sleep in every night.


    Shane Pagano – Conservative LGBT Activist


    Thanksgiving Day is a day that’s purely American. The one day of the year that belongs to each of us. I’m thankful every day to live in America, the one place left where freedom and liberty reign true.


    Bob Poe – Top Democratic Bundler, Fundraiser for Hillary for America.


    The people in my life, experiences I have had, and the cappuccino I enjoy each morning.


    Jesse Phillips – Managing Partner at Certified Network Associates, candidate for State Committeeman for the Seminole County GOP.


    I am grateful to the men and women in law enforcement serving to keep us safe. I am thankful to the representatives working full time jobs with part time pay to be our voice in Tallahassee .And for the opportunity to raise a family in the greatest country on earth.


    Jason Brodeur – State Representative from Sanford, FL.


    Health, family, freedom.


    Debbie Cox-Roush – Former Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Florida, owner of DCR Creative Solutions, Tampa Bay Regional Chair of Marco Rubio for President.


    Thankful that I’m blessed with an amazing Family. Thankful that I live in a country that celebrates freedom and thankful everyday, with gratitude, for the men and women of the armed forces who keep us safe. Happy Thanksgiving.


    So… what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?!


    Jacob Engels, is the Founder of East Orlando Post & Seminole County Post. He is a seasoned political operative who has led numerous statewide political groups and has worked on several high-profile local, statewide, and national races. Jacob has been interviewed on national television & radio programs, with his work having been featured in the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald and other publications nationwide. He can be reached at info@eastorlandopost.com