By Matt Wiley
After years of serving as the face of the Wesley Chapel area in Florida’s House of Representatives, State Rep. Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) has officially been sworn in as the next Speaker of the Florida House.
For six years, Speaker Weatherford, 32, has represented Wesley Chapel in Tallahassee and most recently headed up the House Redistricting Committee, which worked to redraw Florida’s voting Districts for the House, Senate and U.S. Congressional seats prior to the 2012 Presidential Election .
The House voted unanimously for Weatherford, a Brookside resident, to be the next Speaker of the House, succeeding District 35 Rep. Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park) and becoming the first Speaker of the House from Pasco County in more than 100 years.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Weatherford says. “We have a lot of work to do and there are a lot of challenges down the road. There’s no time for a victory lap.”
He says that as State House Speaker, Wesley Chapel really will have a voice in Tallahassee.
“We’ve had a voice since I’ve been in the Legislature,” he explains. “But, now I get a microphone. I hope that I make the community proud.”
He says that there are many priorities over the next two years, including campaign finance reform and, especially, education.
“I really want the Legislature to work toward making Florida’s education system the strongest in the country,” he explains. “But, it’s not going to happen over night.”
The 2013 Legislative Session won’t begin until March 5, but legislative committees are already beginning to meet, and will continue to meet through January and February.
“That’s where a lot of ideas get tossed around,” Weatherford says. “With 120 members in the House, there’s an opportunity for a lot of ideas. We have to harness the good ones. Things are going to move pretty quickly once the session gets going.”
On November 20, Weatherford was officially sworn in as the new Speaker of the House in the House Chambers of the State Capitol Building in Tallahassee.
speech, detailing Florida’s unemployment, real estate, welfare and education issues. “These are problems that we can not afford to ignore.”
Weatherford also pointed out that the presidential election is over, so, to him, wishing for the President or Congress to fail is the same as wishing for America to fail.
“We are not here to serve as passive brokers for the special interest groups,” he said. “We are here to be the chamber of ideas and solutions. We are also here to govern and to offer bold, transformational ideas. Every member of this Chamber has a personal responsibility to learn, to know and to understand these issues so that we may be knowledgeable brokers of lasting solutions.”
Weatherford also addressed the issue of bipartisanship, stressing that regardless of their political parties, all State House members will be treated with fairness and respect.
“On this matter, you can expect my future actions to match my prior years of bipartisanship,” he explained, adding that no one in the House is considered an enemy due to their party affiliation.
“Our enemies are unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, broken systems, broken government and burdensome regulation,” he said. “These are the enemies that are wreaking havoc on our people and on our state.”
Speaker Weatherford closed his speech by stressing that two years (the term for a state representative, is a short time, but that much can still be done for the State in that timeframe.
“Our time is short,” he said. “The clock is ticking. Let us make the most of every single second. There are people counting on us. I am counting on (my fellow Representatives). So that when that clock runs out, may it be said of us that we were bold, we served with a purpose and we fulfilled our promise to Florida.”
“We are living in a time when the people of Florida expect us to act,” Weatherford said during his acceptance