Nearly 250 candidates are vying for state House and state Senate seats in 2020. Try as we will, Florida Politics can’t interview all of them. Just like in 2016 and 2018, we’re again asking every candidate to complete a questionnaire we believe offers an interesting, albeit, thumbnail sketch of who they are and why they are running. If you are a candidate and would like to complete the questionnaire, email [email protected]
Today’s feature: Danny Burgess, a Republican candidate for Senate District 20.
In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?
I am running because I’ve been inspired by those I served as FDVA Executive Director and want to serve them and my community in Tallahassee.
University of South Florida, B.A., 2004-2008, Barry University School of Law, J.D., 2008-2012.
What was your first job?
I worked at Patio Works (now Wesley Chapel Nursery) doing pretty much everything: sales, deliveries, loaded rocks, plants, pavers and mulch, etc.
Significant other? Kids?
My beautiful wife, Courtney, and I have been blessed with three wonderful children: Adeline Belle Burgess, Daniel W. Burgess III, and Eleanor Rose Burgess.
Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement?
I spoke with the Republican leaders of the Senate, members of the Florida House, and local leaders. I am deeply grateful for the outpouring of support I’ve received.
Who do you count on for advice?
My wife, Courtney, is my rock and my best friend. I can always count on her to help me to see the forest through the trees. I’m also fortunate to have family and friends that will always tell me the truth and keep me grounded.
Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager?
My campaign consultant firm is firm Strategic Image Management. My campaign manager is Meagan Hebel.
Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?
I received two different contributions when I announced for the State Senate. I received a check from Floridians for Economic Freedom, and an in-kind contribution from the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee.
Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?
I’ve been inspired by a lot of the elected leaders I have met. Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson and I have been close family friends for many years and I’ve witnessed his passion for helping our community in more ways than I can count. I also greatly admire Governor Ron DeSantis and saw his leadership firsthand while I was serving as the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Finally, I’m good friends with Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls, we grew up together around Pasco politics, we entered the Florida House together in 2014, and I can’t wait to work with him when he becomes Speaker.
Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?
I think there is a lot of focus on the negatives out there, and that tends to alter people’s perspective of what’s going on. Almost all of the elected officials I meet are good, hard-working people trying to do the best for their constituents. As an elected official, I have maintained an open-door policy with everyone; even if we disagree on an issue, I feel it’s important to give the other side a fair hearing. I believe the best way to restore trust in elected officials is to be open, accessible, and honest, and that’s what I will be as a State Senator.
What are 3 issues that you’re running on?
I want to continue the work I’ve done at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and continue to address the issue of veterans’ suicide. We made progress on this critical issue, but more work needs to be done. They were there for us in our darkest hour, and we must be there for them in theirs.
Other things I want to focus on include our recovery from COVID-19. This is not a specific policy, but encompasses a large grab-bag of issues. Not only supporting our health care heroes, but those who have been affected by COVID in other ways; from long-term care residents and their families who haven’t been able to spend time together for months, to small business owners who lost or nearly lost the business they’ve been spending their whole lives building up. We do not yet know all of the effects that COVID will have on us or our economy, but Florida’s leaders need to be prepared for a whole variety of aftershocks from this unprecedented pandemic.
Finally, I want to be a leader who will help restore some faith in our politics. It is easy, and popular to be a cynic about politics, to throw up your hands and say “it doesn’t matter, they’re all the same, etc.” I truly want to be someone that the voters can count on, in good times and in bad, and someone that they can say “we may agree with him, or disagree with him, but we know where he stands, we know he listens more than he speaks, he tries to understand another’s views, and we know what his intentions are.” I think restoring faith in our politics will do a lot more for Florida than a simple laundry list of bill ideas or policy proposals.
What is a “disruptive” issue you are interested in?
When I was Chairman of the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee, a key issue we tackled during those two years was the important issues of workers’ compensation. This issue affects so many different stakeholders: workers, business owners, doctors, unions, insurers, attorneys, etc. and has a major impact on our economy. As a State Senator, I would like the opportunity to continue working on reforming our workers’ comp laws so that they strike the right balance between the injured workers and business-owners.
What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?
Senate District 20 is one of the fastest growing communities in Florida, and because of that, our District is in need of upgrading and modernizing our infrastructure. When I was in the Florida House, I was proud to work to help secure a four-lane extension of State Road 56, which provided a critical artery for Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills. As a State Senator, I will continue to work tirelessly to upgrade our transportation infrastructure to alleviate traffic congestion and improve the quality of life for our residents.
Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?
Having had the unique opportunity to work for Governor Ron DeSantis, I was incredibly impressed with his leadership qualities. I had the chance to see our Governor working behind the scenes and I was struck by how calm he is under pressure, and how he was able to make critical decisions in a decisive manner. I witnessed true leadership up close and personal while I worked for Governor DeSantis.
If you could amend the Florida Constitution, what would you change?
I would amend the Constitution to make it harder to put new amendments into the Florida Constitution. I believe that we have a legislative process for a reason; the people elect representatives to the Legislature to make laws on their behalf. I look at the Constitution as the foundation of our State government; when you want to change things in your home, you do not alter the foundation every time.
Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?
I like having yard signs for our campaign, especially because I am seeking to represent two new counties: Polk and Hillsborough, that I have not represented before. I see yard signs as a great way for people to show their support and I am grateful for any person who is willing to put up a sign.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
When I get up in the morning I usually end up reading a book to my children. Our recent favorite book is Hark! A Shark! by Dr. Seuss.
Where do you get your political news?
I read a lot of different sources for news. I check Florida Politics frequently for any important statewide news. I also love reading our local newspapers, such as the Zephyrhills Free Press, the Dade City News, the Zephyrhills News, the Neighborhood News and the Laker-Lutz News to make sure I’m up to date on what’s going on in our community.
Social media presence? Twitter handle?
I have both a Facebook page and a twitter handle @DannyBurgessFL. I also have a website.
In 280 characters, what’s a Tweet that best describes your campaign message?
For nearly two years I’ve had the honor to serve our state’s veterans and work on their behalf. Now, inspired by those I served alongside, our campaign begins with a focus on renewing Florida’s economic promise and taking care of the most vulnerable among us.
I’m passionate about spending time with my wife and children, and when I need to unwind, I go for a run.
Favorite sport and sports team?
My uncle, Dave Eiland, played for and was the pitching coach for the New York Yankees the year they won the World Series, so I have rooted for the Yankees in baseball. I also played baseball in high school. As a proud graduate of the University of South Florida, I always cheer for the Bulls.