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Locals among DeSantis’ transition team

By Staff | Dec 27, 2018

Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart

Florida Governor-elect Ron DeSantis has called upon two Lee County community leaders to hold positions on his Transition Advisory Committees as he prepares to take office Jan. 8.

Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart has been selected to chair the committee on Government Operations, while Hope Healthcare President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith has been named to the committee on Health and Wellness.

“I’m humbled to be chosen to lead this knowledgeable and accomplished team as we see to it that the most crucial functions of government continue to serve the citizens of Florida,” said Hart in a statement. “As a fellow military veteran, I know Gov.-elect DeSantis will stay focused when it comes to what matters most to people. I’m proud to have his back during this important time.”

Hart will oversee a collection of nearly three dozen community and business leaders from across the Sunshine State.

The committee will focus on finding ways to create an unburdensome regulatory environment and streamlining the process of doing business in Florida, read a release on Hart’s new role.

Hope Healthcare President and CEO Samira K. Beckwith

“We will focus on government operation as an advisory committee to provide recommendations to Gov. DeSantis that would be helpful, as we facilitate things in the future,” said Hart.

He is excited to get to work with various community leaders and bring the community and government closer together.

“When you put together so many talented people I’m wanting to see what I can learn and share with the community,” he said. “I’m most looking forward to seeing how the government can be streamlined and to make sure we can work towards making a connection with people. To make it easier for folks to interact with the government. More public access. More technology driven.”

His reaction to being tapped by Governor-elect DeSantis?

“I was totally surprised,” he said of being chosen by DeSantis. “After having a conversation with the governor, we have a lot of mutual friends, some who even recommended me to him. I am pleased to be serving the state.

“As we look forward to the future, we have a lot to offer the state of Florida.”

Hart has a long-standing resume of public service in Lee County and for his country.

He is an Air Force veteran, FBI Nation Academy graduate and former police chief of the City of Fort Myers.

“I have a long history in the community,” he said. “I have been involved in many non-profit organizations as well. I’ve always been someone who has given back to Lee County.”

The environmental catastrophe our waters took on this past summer is not something DeSantis, or Hart, is taking lightly, he said.

“I will certainly give my advice on that topic,” he said. “We depend so much on tourism here. Water quality is a big part of the governors agenda. We have to keep Florida as Florida. Our quality of life and our quality of water needs to continue to improve.

“I am pleased to serve our new governor. It’s great to see him reach across the state and bring everyone together.”

For Beckwith, she will serve alongside 50 health care experts from a variety of medical fields on the Health and Wellness committee that will be chaired by Alan Levine, the former secretary of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration, along with Lt. Governor-elect Jeanette Nunez.

“It’s a privilege to work with Governor DeSantis and this group of knowledgeable leaders to help set the course for Florida’s future in health care,” she said in a statement. “The transition team’s focus aligns with Hope’s vision of transforming the experiences of illness, aging and dying for all Floridians.”

Beckwith has been with Hope Healthcare for nearly 30 years, focusing on home and community care.

She was pleased to be given the opportunity and said she is quite interested in serving on the committee.

Her focus will be to help those who have a very serious illness – outside of the hospital, and community care.

“I believe it is important for our legislature and government to understand heath care needs for people, not just in the hospital, but at home,” said Beckwith. “I feel I can help with that – especially for our seniors and people with severe illnesses.

“Extended care services are not always recognized.”

Prevention is the name of her game, as she believes that if people are not provided an acceptable level of care in their own home, it may lead to more serious health consequences.

“We aim to keep people comfortable at home if we can,” she said.

In speaking with Nunez, Beckwith is encouraged by the Lt. Governor-elect’s interest on the matter.

“She (Nunez) has been very receptive, interested and engaged,” said Beckwith. “She is interested in the well being of Floridians. And that starts with prevention, providing the best care possible and to provide that care at the right time. We want to develop the best prevention program possible.”

Both Hart and Beckwith also worked with outgoing governor and newly appointed Senator-elect, Rick Scott.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj