She’ll end her legislative career in Tallahassee as Senate Minority Leader, the first African-American woman ever to ascend to that position.
It’s not the first time she’s broken barriers. Joyner was the first black woman to practice law in Hillsborough County, and was one of the few women to head the National Bar Association.
Although many of her pet projects in the Legislature — such as affordable health care, raising the minimum wage, making it easier for ex-felons to vote — were never achieved, it wasn’t for a lack of effort in the GOP-dominated House and Senate.
She decried the lack of economic diversity represented in the Capitol in one of her bills that died in committee in the waning weeks of the 2016 Session: It would have raised lawmakers’ salaries from $29,600 to $50,000. Joyner said it’s time more “regular” people from diverse backgrounds get the opportunity to be citizen-legislators.
In an election year, however, it wasn’t surprising to see it go down to defeat.
“Senator Joyner is thoughtful but tough who doesn’t bow to special interest,” said Democratic strategist and lobbyist Ana Cruz. “Not one to shy away from a tough debate or unpopular issue, she is a respected leader in both the Florida House and Senate.”
Joyner was ranked 16th on the list in 2015.
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel that assembled it, please read here.