By Lynn Jones
If you are a resident in the state of Florida, you have heard of Jennifer Carroll. From January 4, 2011 to March 12, 2013, Jennifer Carroll was the Lieutenant Governor for the State of Florida. She ran on current Governor Rick Scott’s ticket during his first election and they won. Midway through the four-year term Caroll was asked to resign and fingered in other scandals that interfered with her position as lieutenant governor. While in office, allegations arose about her character, strength, and loyalty. Yet, she remained steadfast as a elected official, devoted wife and the mother of three children.
All of this information and more is revealed in her Amazon paperback and Kindle best seller autobiography entitled, Jennifer Carroll, When You Get There. The book details Jennifer’s life in the military as a naval officer, upbringing as a Trinidadian American, adoptive parents, her best friend and husband, three children, entrepreneurial legacy, and her life in Tallahassee, Florida.
The book shares her unknowing adoption and he eventual path to the military. As Jennifer moved through the naval ranks she met her husband, started a family and eventually moved to Jacksonville, Florida.
I spoke with Jennifer and she answered some of my questions:
LJ: Jennifer, your story was very motivating and inspiring. Had you always planned to write a book? And why write the book now?
JC: Throughout the years when people heard about my life experiences, they always suggested that I write a book. I shrugged it off for years with the intent to one day do just that. After leaving office I felt that sharing my personal story will help others, particularly females, to overcome adversities in life and in particular the work place. I also know that I cannot compete print for print with the media and social media to clear up misinformation and character assignation that was printed about me in the media and I wanted to tell my story to get the record straight. I’ve worked on my autobiography for the better part of a year and I am proud of the final product. Many people have already told me that my story has given them encouragement and strength to persevere.
LJ: When I read the book I saw the correlation between your admiration of the stewardess uniform and your destiny to enlist in the military. Do you feel the same and how has being in the military shaped you, your family and your task for the future?
JC: There are some similarities for my admiration of being a stewardess and wearing the uniform. The military filled that desire. The Navy had the best looking uniform for women and I thought that dressing sharply looked impressive. Being in the military enforced the lessons of my parents Jean and Carl and applying that to the work ethics I had in the Navy which helped propel me to higher levels. My upbringing of respect for authority and obeying the rules was also something that the military helped to solidify. The Navy also developed me as a leader, team player, manager with compassion and a true desire to help others advance. With regards to my own family, besides my stern up bringing and my military structure, I raised my children with the same discipline, work ethics, respect for authority and the rules.
LJ: Was there ever a time you wanted to quit or give up your role as Lieutenant Governor, even before the Allied Veteran debacle?
JC: Yes, before Allied Veteran I was in motion of leaving the positon of Lt Gov. I was not planning on running with Governor Scott in the 2014 election. I was already looking for a job in the civilian sector, updating my resume and I was also in dialogue with folks in Washington D.C. about an ambassador position. I know word had circulated in Tallahassee about my dialogue with D.C. and I think this was a huge reason I was asked to resign under the disguise of the Allied Veteran issue. I think the Governor and his handlers did not like the option of me being the one to leave office and make the Governor look bad, so their alternative was to crush me in the process. Unfortunately, this is how political operatives think; kill her before she may damage us.
LJ: Why didn’t you speak out about Rick Scott’s administration before the Allied fiasco? Or after?
JC: I considered myself loyal and a team player to the Governor and the Party. As the only black Republican elected statewide and the only Back Republican in Tallahassee, had I come out about the way I was being treated, it would have not been good for Rick Scott in his reelection and the Party would have had a very difficult time in its recruiting efforts taking a step backwards in the party building efforts. I really thought in sharing with the Governor what was happening to me by his staff; how I was being undermined and treated that he would step up and lead, do something about it. But in hind sight, I don’t think he cared to do anything. He was probably part of the orchestrated efforts to get me out of his way.
LJ: As an African-American Trinidadian woman – what does being a Republican mean to you? And have you always been a Republican?
JC: I have always been a Republican. Early on I did not know what that meant; I registered Republican because my parents were. It was not until I met with Dr. Arnett E. Girardeau when I wanted to run for congress and he asked me was I a liberal or conservative. He schooled me on the difference and that gave me a better comprehension about the party I was registered in. At one time being a Republican meant opportunity for all, less government intervention in our lives, more freedom, more personal responsibility, less burden of taxation and offering ways for people to keep more of what they earned. I hear this same mantra from the party today; however, the actions of Republican elected officials especially in Washington, D.C. does not necessarily reflect these philosophies.
LJ: What are you plans for the future?
JC: First I am going to enjoy being a grandmother and spend as much time as I can spoiling my grandchild. I have fewer years ahead of me and I don’t want to sacrifice my family’s time. I think back on the long hours I spend working in the Governor’s office, sacrificing time with my family that I could never bring back, and all for what, to get stabbed in the back with no appreciation. Thank God I have a great husband and family who gives me the flexibility and support to do the job I signed up to do. I also plan on speaking to groups and organizations especially women on how they can be survivors, to inspire, encourage and motivate them. And I plan on writing other books.
LJ: Do you feel that in the next election voters will elect a Republican for President of the United States?
A: If Hillary Clinton is the Democrat nominee, I think she will be very hard to beat, not impossible but hard. I think the nostalgia for the Democrats of being the first outshines the Republicans. Democrats have diversity and freshness in their corner. Republicans have not caught that wave. So on the mere fact that she could be the first female elected president in this country will have many voters voting to make this history. Just like Republicans, Black and White voted for President Obama because of that historical factor, so will some Republican women, Independents and No Party Affiliate will vote for that historical factor. So it really boils down to if Hillary runs.
Currently Jennifer Carroll serves as political analyst with WJXT Channel 4 in Jacksonville, and senior Adviser for a West Palm Beach Company, Global Digital Solutions Inc. Without backing down she makes it clear she not only is getting there, she’s staying there!