Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Meet Keaton Alexander, one of the ’30 under 30′ rising stars of Florida politics

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Keaton Alexander didn’t fall far from the family tree.

Her great-grandfather, Ben Hill Griffin Jr., was in the Florida Legislature and ran for governor in 1974, losing the Democratic primary to Reubin Askew.

Her father, JD Alexander, was a Florida state representative and senator for 14 years. And her sister, Britton, was press secretary for the Senate’s Republican caucus.

Keaton’s heart was in dance, she says, specifically musical theater, but politics called. She is the Florida financial coordinator for former Gov. Jeb Bush‘s 2016 presidential campaign.

“I danced in a show this summer, but haven’t taken a class since I moved to Miami,” she says. “After campaign life, I will definitely go back to dancing and performing.”

Here’s Keaton in her own words:

I am … 23 years old.

I live in … Miami. But I’m originally from Lake Wales, in Imperial Polk County.

I got into politics because … I grew up in a family that valued public service. I never thought of it as getting into politics, I just saw from an early age that community service was a responsibility and not an option. When I started out trying to double major in Dance and Political Science at the University of Florida, the scheduling wasn’t working out and just before graduating I decided to apply for an internship through UF’s Bob Graham Center for Public Leadership.

One principle I always put above politics is … there’s no gray area when it comes to doing things right. Don’t compromise your morals because someone else is in a gray area.

Person or people who gave me my first shot … Sen. Wilton Simpson and his staff including Rachel Perrin RogersPatty Harrison, and Patrick Weightman. They gave me a chance, despite my dance-centric résumé, and then gave me opportunities to grow and to succeed in my new environment.

I’ve already worked for/on (campaign, issues, etc.) … Sen. Simpson and Meteoric Media Strategies. Currently I work for Jeb 2016 as Florida financial coordinator.

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for … people who are leaders and try to learn as much as possible from them. I hope to work for people who don’t bend the rules, are straightforward, and care about their team.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors … I don’t have to look further than my own family for people who have not only advised me but set examples for me to follow. I had great-grandparents who showed me the importance of a hard day’s work, grandparents who teach me to love with an open heart, parents who guided me with their own action, but let me be my own person, and a sister who challenges me to work just as hard as she does.

The people I most admire in politics are … those who are there to make a difference, not make a name for themselves. My dad, he ran because he felt that the best thing he could do for me and my sister is to make sure we had a good education and when public school didn’t seem to be the best option, he decided to run. He wanted every child in Polk County to have the opportunity to get the best education they deserved and he never strayed from that platform the entire time he was in office. My dad was not a “kissing babies” politician. He was a get-things-done politician. He went to Tallahassee to improve Florida and did just that.

One lesson I’ve already learned is … you cannot win without entering the race.

If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be  dancing on my favorite place in the world – the stage. I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old, and I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon. Even after moving into my career in politics, I continue to take class and perform under the lights. I dance a little bit of every style, but my favorites are musical theater and Latin ballroom.

In 10 years, you’ll read about me … my sister and me in 40 under 40. (I’m stealing that line from her.)

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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