Rep. David Kerner, District 87, D-Lake Worth.
Education: Law enforcement certification, Santa Fe Community College; bachelor’s degree, political science and criminology, University of Florida; law degree, University of Florida.
When and where did you first arrive in Florida? Born at Good Samaritan in West Palm Beach.
First job and what you learned from it: My first job was washing police cars behind the Lake Worth Police Department where my dad was a police officer. I learned the value of hard work and that police officers get very dirty sometimes. Hanging around the police department where my dad was assistant chief I learned that it’s a very difficult job. It’s very stressful. And police officers rely upon each other as if they are family. And that was pretty cool to me and that’s what drew me to the profession.
First political job and what you learned from it: I worked for the Democratic Party during the 2000 debacle. I answered phone calls for people that thought they voted incorrectly in Palm Beach County. That was sort of when I got the bug. I learned how passionate Americans are about voting. I learned how seriously the older generation took it, and that’s maybe a lesson my generation should learn. You have decisions to make in life. If something is upsetting to you, you can either ignore it or learn from it and move on. For me that was my calling to be involved in the political process. I was disappointed with what had occurred.
You were a police officer for 10 years. Why did you leave? I still consider the Alachua Police Department my family. I remember turning in the patrol car and my badge. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was so happy being a police officer. But I also know that I wanted to learn as much about the law as possible and I could always go back to being a police officer but I couldn’t always go back to law school.
Best political advice you ever received: It came from Sen. Joe Abruzzo, who’s a mentor, after I was elected. He said this process is about respect and relationships. And that’s true in life, too. You need to treat people with respect and you need to create solid relationships. We can let parties get in the way of what we want to do. We may have the best ideas or the worst ideas. But none of that matters if you don’t maintain that respect for the process and the people in it.
What do you tell young people about government? I tell them to not get their opinions about government from five-minute newscasts. Get involved at the ground level with a candidate or the party and learn for yourself what the political process means to you.
What do you see ahead for Florida? We’re in an improving economic time, which isn’t surprising because these things are cyclical. Elected officials have made the economy a political issue. We’re now in what looks to be a solid recovery. I think you’ll see more bipartisanship because there’s more revenue available. People are happy because employment is rising and more houses are being sold. So hopefully Florida can get back to more policymaking and less partisan fighting. I’d like to see more of an emphasis on education and allowing our universities to be independent and allow them to produce good products in conjunction with our K-12 public school system.
What’s it like being the youngest Democrat and the second-youngest representative? I’m definitely the youngest-looking because I keep getting kicked out of the members’ dining room and they keep asking me to use the staff entrance instead of the member entrance to the committee rooms. I’m continuously getting stopped at the entrance to the members’ lounge and the House floor. Just the other day we had our first floor session. They stopped me and asked me to use the side door and set up my member’s computer. But I was 20 when I became a police officer. So I learned real quickly how to deal with looking young and being young. When I was sworn in at the Alachua Police Department, they issued me a Police Explorer’s jacket, not a police jacket. And no one ever told me. So I wore an Explorer’s jacket for probably the whole shift. I’m trying to let people know that I’m a state rep by moving good bills along and getting a good reputation for being a good legislator.
What surprised you the most about being in Tallahassee? I think the diversity of the representatives is astounding and inspiring. The members’ lounge is the one place in Florida where they literally have people from every part of the state, from the rural portions in North Florida, the Bible Belt in the Panhandle, to Palm Beach to the west coast, Fort Myers. Everybody brings their own experiences, their own accents. It’s just a really neat melting pot of opinions. I love that about eating lunch with these guys and girls every day. We all talk about what’s important to us. We talk about our families. I think that’s something unique about getting everybody together outside of the spotlight. You can really have an honest conversation among yourselves.
Do you text while you drive? Honestly, I have texted while I’m driving. I try to be careful about it.
Do you own a gun? I do. I own a couple of guns. I don’t have a concealed weapons permit but I applied for one last month. Up until my swear-in in November, I didn’t need one because I was still a police officer. I was a part-time Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officer while I was in law school and after I became a lawyer.
Favorite smartphone app: The Palm Beach Post Breaking News.
What kind of car do you drive? 2008 black Corvette. I’ve had it for three years. One of my favorite things is driving in that car just anywhere. I take the back roads to get up here. I’m not a materialistic person. I don’t wear any jewelry. I own literally nothing. But the Corvette was the one thing that was everything and more than I thought it would be. It’s been my favorite car since I was 5 years old. When I got out of law school, I purchased a used one. It’s just been awesome. I love it.
What’s on your iPod? I listen to Pandora, mostly country music. Everything from George Strait to Eric Church and Randy Houser.