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Meet Zane Beard, one of the ’30 under 30′ rising stars of Florida politics

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The son of Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel, Zane Beard is one of the youngest members of the 30 under 30 club at 21. He worked on his father’s successful re-election in 2012 and will do so in 2016. Working with his father, he says, has taught him “exactly what it means to be a man who can be involved in politics, yet find good in every person you encounter.”

Since March of 2014, Beard has been employed as a congressional aide to Volusia County U.S. Rep. John Mica in Deltona. He originally contacted the campaign to see whether he could “dig holes for his campaign signs or put cards on doors.”

Instead, however, Mica’s campaign consultant, John Dowless, suggested he meet with Mica and his wife for dinner. That meeting led to his getting a job in the congressman’s district office. “Congressman Mica took a huge gamble on a kid, and he will forever have my gratitude,” Beard says.

Beard says he puts personal integrity over politics. “Politics does not have to be limited to those who have a core set of beliefs and are willing to carry them out in the public arena,” he says.

Among those whom he calls his mentors, Beard mentions current Seminole County Republican Executive Chairman Al Schwarz and previous chairman Jim Stelling, “who looked beyond my youth and gave me responsibilities within the local party that are usually reserved for people older than me.”

A lesson this young man has already learned is that loyalty is everything.

“Loyalty is rare in politics, and I’ve found a handful of very local people that I can count on,” he says. “I don’t give a second chance to anybody who is disloyal. Loyalty is everything.”

If he wasn’t in politics, his fantasy would be to manage the Baltimore Orioles.

You can connect him on Twitter @ZaneBeard, or send him a friend request at Facebook.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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