Florida House of Representatives Clerk Credits UCF For Leadership Traits

(Photo Credit: Florida House of Representatives)

The rules and procedures that keep Florida’s Legislature running smoothly are no accident.

There’s rules for introducing bills, who gets to speak on the floor and for how long and voting procedures — just to name a few.  Maintaining order and enforcing those rules falls to the clerk of the House of Representatives, currently Jeff Takacs, ’99, Political Science.

“Fairness is part of it; making sure there’s equal contributions to the policy process. But we also want to operate in transparency and openness,” Takacs said.

The road to this unique position started with a fascination for politics. Takacs traveled to Washington, D.C., for a week as a 10th grader, where he was introduced to both the founding documents of the U.S. like the Constitution and the contemporary process of policy-making. That sealed his commitment to politics as a career, but not the university where he would pursue an education.

(Photo Credit: Florida House of Representatives)

A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native, Takacs toured the University of Central Florida while visiting family not far from campus. It was an instant attraction, Takacs says, and he was thrilled when he was accepted into his first choice school. Political science classes introduced him to the theory and history of politics, but it was his experiences in the Student Government Association that supplied his practical experience. Specifically, SGA taught him how to effectively manage and motivate people. He also credits his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, for instilling leadership traits in him.

“When I’m looking at job candidates, I’m looking for the same leadership qualities that I picked up. Are they empathetic? Do they have a passion for innovation?” Takacs said.

Takacs briefly considered going to law school after graduation, but early jobs with state legislators in Tallahassee showed him that a law degree was not necessarily a requirement for politics. After working as a district secretary and legislative assistant to two different members of the House, Takacs went on to work for Florida’s chief financial officer and attorney general, before returning to the House to join the House Redistricting Committee.  From there, Takacs went on to serve as staff director of the office of the House majority leader, and then to serve as an legislative process adviser to the previous two speakers of the House, Steve Crisafulli and Richard Corcoran.

There are 120 elected officials in the House, but supporting them is an army of staffers like Takacs. In Takacs’ office, for instance, is a team who supplies expertise in rules of governance, provides the staff infrastructure to the legislative process and manages the House Page & Messenger Program that draws youth from around the state to serve in assisting the House in its business. Those support roles are key to a smooth-running government, Takacs says.

“Our common trait is the public service component. We have that desire to serve our fellow Floridians and do the very best job we can,” Takacs said.







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