Weatherford gets chummy with young Tampa Bay professionals
House Speaker Will Weatherford spoke to a room of about 50 young professionals Wednesday night as part of an Emerge Tampa Bay event at the Chart House. Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, talked some policy, but focused more on encouraging his contemporaries to get engaged socially and politically.
“I feel like I’m talking to people who are gonna be around for a while,” he said, laughing.
The 33-year-old added that it’s not every day he gets to talk to people from his own demographic.
If there was any question about who he was trying to appeal to, Weatherford erased that by cracking booze jokes and teasing his younger brother to start off his speech.
The lawmaker got serious as he turned to what it takes to lead and create change in Florida and beyond.
“What fires me up is when I meet people who believe in something,” Weatherford said. “It’s not our parents’ generation who starts a revolution.”
For Weatherford, Florida is a good place to start that revolution. He emphasized things he thinks are being done right here compared to other states. He cited the state’s 7.1 percent unemployment rate and rattled off states with with much higher figures, such as California and Illinois.
But there are also challenges facing the state, he said, including the need to modernize an 18th-century education system.
Weatherford touted advances in online education at schools like the University of Florida.
“You’ll be able to get a degree for $10,000,” he said, adding that some people may get through the coursework in one year.
He encouraged audience members to think big and work together to create personal and professional growth in Florida.
“We have to think long term,” Weatherford said, launching into one of many football analogies about getting to the goal line. ”What’s the 30-year play?”