While scoping around on Facebook, amidst an ordinary looking news feed, I saw a status update that caught my eye. A friend of mine, Dane Eagle, announced his campaign to run for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives representing District 74, overseeing Cape Coral — my hometown. For those of you wearing a “deer-in-headlights look” at the city name, it’s located in the southwest region of Florida near more commonly known cities like Fort Myers and Naples. In light of the big news, I decided to conduct my first interview, a very patient Mr. Eagle my first victim.
After our interview, I have full confidence in electing Dane Eagle as District 74′s representative in the Florida state legislature. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” District 74 may only cover a small percentage of the world, but it’s the courage to obstruct the common habit of complaining and nurturing the mind to set forth action.
Can you briefly describe your personal history in politics?
I never thought I’d run for office, even growing up. I grew up in Cape Coral, born and raised. My family owns a real estate company, Eagle Realty. In my college years I attended the University of Florida and decided to go pre-med which kicked my butt. I then double majored in Economics. Later down the road, I got a chance to volunteer for Charlie Crist, who was running for governor of Florida at the time in 2005 (Crist was sworn into office in 2007 and served as governor until 2011). I made a good impression and was eventually offered a job. With that, I was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff by age 24, which remains the youngest in Florida’s history.
What is your political philosophy?
I grew up very conservative, with a Christian background. So along those lines, fiscally I firmly believe in fewer taxes, less government spending and more freedom. I am pretty socially conservative as well, but I do live with an open mind. I understand that not everyone has the same beliefs that I do. I am not going to go to Tallahassee and say this the way it’s going to be, and that’s it. I am going to make decisions based on my values but when I go to the table for discussion I’m going to be very open-minded about what others want to have done as well.
What motivates you to run for office more than anything else?
I don’t want to sit back and see things happen when something can be done. I hate feeling helpless. I know people are hurting here in southwest Florida, as many other areas of the country. I want to make decisions for the people and not for myself. Not for lobbyists and not for special interest groups. Everyday the decisions I make will be to be for the benefit of the constituents back home. The help for the greater good is what motivates me entirely. I want to make a difference.
Being the Deputy Chief of Staff to Charlie Crist, how will you use that to your advantage? What did you accomplish while working next to him?
You get to know politics so well when you’re living and breathing it. Again, I never thought I’d go into politics. I’ve always voted and was aware of issues within our government but I was never that involved. A lot of the people in this field were Political Science majors and they’ve always wanted to get into politics. So jumping in not knowing anything about politics, or at least the way it works, I got to learn firsthand so it became more of a direct learning experience from being in the volunteer and Deputy Chief of Staff position with Charlie Christ. I know what I need to do for my campaign to win — meet the voters, earn their trust and confidence and if I am elected I know from day one what needs to be done. It won’t be a learning process at that point whereas many other people who get elected into office are still learning the process. I already know that process, so I am able to start making a difference from day one.
What’s the biggest problem affecting government today?
Well, even though I am just running for the state legislature in Tallahassee, the biggest problem is Congress. There are good people in Congress but when you get up to D.C. you get stuck in this “D.C. mentality” and I think that there needs to be term limits in Congress. There are term limits in the state legislature. It’s a part time job in the legislature here in Florida, so we go to Tallahassee, we work two months out of the year, we help pass laws, and then we come back to our jobs and our families and we lives our lives. In D.C., they go there and that’s there full-time job. That’s all they do, and they get caught up in it so much that they forget about who they are working for, which is the people back home and they forget what they are there to do. In the end, they are working for special interests. It becomes a game of “me” and not “us.” That definitely needs to change.
What makes you a qualified runner for the Florida House of Representatives?
My passion, my want to really make a difference, my experience — I know what needs to be done, I know how to get things done and the fact that I was born and raised in the area. Not many other candidates can say that — they seem to have moved here. This is the only place I’ve ever called home, I really care about it and I want to see it prosper. I want the people to see that things really can get done.
In recent years, Cape Coral has been one of the worst hit areas in the U.S. when it’s come to foreclosures. How would you combine your background in real estate to fix problems?
Cape Coral was the third fastest growing city in the country during the boom, but when the recession hit we became one of the foreclosure capitals. And it’s affected our family just as it has others. I had to move my grandmother up to Sarasota a couple of weeks ago because she lost her home to foreclosure and you just see it everywhere. There’s got to be something that can be done and I am actually in the process of studying that now. And just the economy in general, which is the main focus, I’m hoping to stimulate more job creation in Florida by incentivizing us to compete with other states. I also want to cut regulations. I met a young man who was starting up his own real estate company and there are just so many blockade through government with permits that are taking too long, and just may contribute to him not being able to follow through with his dream because of prices rising back up. He’s trying to make a living, stimulate our economy and government is in his way. It’s just backwards. We need to be helping him, not impeding him.
Note: While doing research on Mr. Eagle before our interview, I couldn’t help but notice an article on how he was hit in the head with a half-full keg at a college party. How? University of Florida football player, Taurean Charles, tossed the half-full keg of beer at Eagle’s head during a fraternity brawl.