Know Your Neighbor: Jimmy Patronis – Incorporating Hospitality into Politics

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By Paul Bonnette

Jimmy PatronisWhen you mention the Patronis Family, perhaps one of the first things that springs to mind is Captain Anderson’s Restaurant. Known for its fresh seafood, cozy atmosphere, and famous tagline, “Dine early and watch the fleet unload,” Captain Anderson’s and the Patronis Family have been synonymous with Florida hospitality for generations. Service and hospitality are things that Florida’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Bay County resident, Jimmy Patronis, knows remarkably well. Having served in his family’s restaurant for many years, Jimmy Patronis worked his way up before receiving his Associate’s Degree in Restaurant Management from Gulf Coast Community College (now Gulf Coast State College) followed by a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Florida State University.

It was during his time at Florida State University that Patronis realized he was being pulled into Florida politics.

“I got involved in student organizations when I was at Gulf Coast and Florida State and did some internships that helped me get a little bit of a bug for politics,” Patronis recalls.
He quickly realized that the lessons he learned at the restaurant translated into public office.

“I think there is a lot that compliments politics and the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry has always taught me that you take care of the customer, and the customer will take care of you.

It was always an easy transition to want to continue to work for the public in a different way.”

Following internships in the Florida Senate as well as the United Kingdom’s House of Commons, Patronis would go on to serve two terms in the Florida House of Representatives. According to Patronis, using skills he learned in hospitality was a perfect way to conduct politics.

“I think Public Service could always use a dose of hospitality… If you don’t hold your elected officials accountable, you are going to get the government you deserve. If someone is going to run for public office and isn’t willing to listen or advocate and find solutions for their customers, then eventually your constituents will stop supporting you. It’s no different than if you are providing a poor meal or poor service; your customers will stop dining with you.”

Following his two terms in the Florida House of Representatives, Patronis was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to the Florida Public Service Commission, followed by his election as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer. For Patronis, one of the hardest-hitting issues for him is addressing the needs of first responders.

“One of the secrets to the economic success of our state is the migration of people from other states that are moving here and bringing their wealth, their retirement checks, and their businesses. None of that takes place without having a safe Florida. I’m a huge advocate for our first responders and our firefighters. People are not going to invest in your community unless it’s safe, so you need to have a safety net that works 24/7/365. You have to take care of those individuals that are standing watch around the clock.”

Perhaps one of the biggest issues in the forefront of the minds of Floridians involves home insurance rates. It’s a concern that Jimmy Patronis has heard from many Florida residents, which makes lowering home insurance a top priority.

“My biggest goal I have is to leave the state of Florida in a better place than we found it. The insurance challenges we are facing right now will pass. We are continuing to make strides and improvements and, more importantly, recruit capital to the state to make a competitive insurance market. MysafeFLhome.com is a grant program where the citizens of the state of Florida can get up to $10,000 from the state to lower their insurance rates. If you are seeing an increase in your insurance rates, you need to visit that website.”

As a Bay County resident, Jimmy Patronis knows the importance of incorporating hospitality into politics and has no intention of slowing down. For Patronis, public service is not only the highest honor, but a commitment as well.

“Ultimately, I think it’s important that you always have a part of your life committed to giving back to the community that you’re in, and I think it contributes to raising a healthy and well-rounded family and helps teach your kids the right type of values.”