Time ran short on Thursday before the Senate Children and Families Committee could weigh in on whether to approve Samuel P. Verghese as the Secretary of the State Department of Elder Affairs.
Verghese, a New Jersey transplant, began his testimony by telling the committee that serving as secretary is about “serving others.”
“Plain and simple, it’s about public service. It’s about serving others,” Verghese said. “It’s about about serving a purpose that’s so much greater than myself: the elders of the state.”
Gov. Rick Scott appointed Verghese as Secretary in December. Prior to that, Verghese served as external affairs director for Scott, chief of staff for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and staff director of the Majority Office in the Florida House of Representatives.
Verghese began his testimony by advising the committee members that the agency is strengthening its partnership with the federal government and was the host state for the White House Conference on Aging.
Florida ranks first in the percentage of residents aged 60 and older. Additionally, there are more than 1.6 million people who are 75 and older. And the 85 year-old and older is the fastest growing group percentage wise in the state.
“When issues come up, we have a seat at the table,” Verghese said.
Noting that the committee had less than 10 minutes left in the meeting Sen. Nancy Detert queried whether the committee should begin the confirmation process but committee chairman Sen. Elenaor Sobel pushed on.
As time continued to tick away Sen. Thad Altman made a motion that the committee vote at a time certain on Verghese’s confirmation. Sobel resisted saying she wanted the committee to hear what Berghese had to say and also ask him questions.
“I want to hear what you have to say but I think we’ve run out of time. Would it be OK if you came back next week?” Sobel said of the week delay. “Otherwise, we’ll cut you short.”
Before the full Senate votes on whether to confirm Verghese’s nominiation the substantive committee must approve him first.