Toni Jennings is a 'Florida Icon' – Florida Trend


Photograph: Doug Scaletta

Florida Development’s ‘Icon’ Collection
» There should not many locations in central Florida that I can’t drive down a road and see a constructing we constructed sooner or later. We’re not actual massive. We now have 25 workers. We used to have numerous craftsmen who did the work themselves. Now we simply handle and subcontract nearly every thing. That is our sixty fifth yr in enterprise.
» My first marketing campaign slogan, as a result of I got here from the development trade, was: ‘Construct authorities higher, not greater.’
» I’ve twin brothers.They’re the ‘sons’ of Jack Jennings & Sons.  
» A pair folks approached me and stated, ‘Have you ever ever considered working for workplace?’ Unbeknownst to me, that they had approached my dad, too. I thought of it and stated, ‘You realize, you by no means know what you are able to do until you strive.’ I used to be enamored with politics on the time. So I ended up working.
» For those who had stopped me in highschool and stated ‘Sooner or later you’ll not solely run for workplace, however be within the Legislature and be lieutenant governor,’ I might have thought you had been loopy.
» My dad persuaded me to work with him. I began on the entrance desk answering the cellphone. I wasn’t an excellent typist. It was fantastic to have the ability to work along with your father and be taught the rules of enterprise and doing enterprise.
» For some time, his workplace was within the storage of the home, and it was my play room.
» I went all the way down to register to vote and got here out as I used to be filling out the types and she or he (Supervisor of Elections Dixie Barber) noticed that I used to be registered as a Republican. I nonetheless keep in mind her me and saying, ‘Does your father know you’re doing this?’ My mother and father had been Democrats, southern Democrats. However I acquired all my household ultimately as a result of, in fact, I ran for workplace a couple of years later and I wanted all of the votes I might get.
» I used to be revered for what I knew about points. I didn’t advance myself on the expense of others. Many in politics care an entire lot extra about getting the credit score than truly engaging in one thing. I might fairly get it carried out than have my title on the plaque. I don’t know that you just get that anymore as a result of you’ve time period limits and persons are out and in in eight years.
» I am going to water aerobics each morning besides Sunday. I find it irresistible. It’s what retains my previous bones transferring. I by no means had an opportunity to try this earlier than as a result of I used to be at all times working. You needed to be someplace at 7 or 7:30 within the morning.
» Once I went to the Legislature, I keep in mind distinctly, I used to be very impressed with all these individuals who had all this data a couple of bunch of various points. What I found out was in the event you keep there lengthy sufficient, the identical issues hold coming again. You suppose you’ve solved it and 10 years later it’s again once more.
» I had been approached up to now to run with a gubernatorial candidate, a few gubernatorial candidates as a matter of truth. And it wasn’t something I simply needed to do. Jeb was fairly pointed and stated, ‘I nonetheless have issues to do and I would like your assist doing them.’ I stated to him, ‘I’m not arising right here to chop ribbons. I wish to be a part of your staff.’ He made me his level particular person for the Legislature.
» It’s laborious to know what the Republicans stand for. Generally it’s laborious to know what the Democrats stand for, too. As I have a look at the get together, that could be a robust factor. I’m nonetheless a Republican, and I’m going to be a Republican as a result of you possibly can accomplish extra by being on the within than throwing darts from the surface.
» The Legislature seems to be rather more partisan now. I feel that’s fascinating as a result of Republicans are in management. If you end up in management, you don’t need to be partisan. When you have acquired the votes, you is usually a little extra beneficiant in the way you strategy issues. I don’t perceive the necessity to do it with the hammer as an alternative of a softer strategy.
» We might stroll precincts. I’ve walked all of Orange County at one time or one other.
» Prince Charming by no means confirmed up. I hope he’s nonetheless on the market, however I’m actually afraid his horse is grey and he’s grey and I’ll be grey when he reveals up. It simply by no means occurred. I feel someplace alongside the way in which I might need been just a little intimidating to some folks. I labored and I used to be within the Legislature and I did numerous issues. I might have beloved to have kids and a household, however that didn’t work out. I didn’t really feel like I had any much less of a life as a result of I hadn’t. I’ve loved each little bit of it.
» Once I entered workplace, they didn’t know fairly what to make of me. Many occasions they’d painting me as this right-wing, extremely conservative. I used to giggle as a result of, you realize, I by no means modified my place. It’s simply the center moved. What gave the impression to be so conservative within the ’70s and ’80s someway regarded very reasonable by the point we acquired to the ’90s.
» Time period limits have pushed folks to advance their very own explicit pursuits versus specializing in what is nice for the residents of Florida. Lengthy-term objectives aren’t practically as prevalent now. If anyone is aware of they will be there eight years, they are going to repair one thing for at the moment, and it will not be the long-term answer that basically works for tomorrow.  
Tags: Florida Icon
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