I moved to Tallahassee in 1952 and attended Kate Sullivan Elementary School and Florida High, graduating in 1961. At Florida State University, I earned a bachelor's and master's degree and doctoral studies in history.
As soon as I could, I honored our veterans by becoming one at age 17. I served in the Navy for 22 years, the first seven as an enlisted sailor, including two years aboard the USS Terrebone Parish (LST-1156). I then earned a direct commission as a naval intelligence officer reservist for the next 15 years. My final assignment was in a Pentagon unit, where I was a Soviet Navy analyst and managing editor of theNaval Intelligence Quarterly. I retired in 1983 as a Lieutenant Commander. I’m a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Jewish War Veterans.
I fought for my North Florida community against Big Oil for six intense years – and won! My neighbors and I in Jefferson and Leon counties organized a grassroots movement to stop Colonial Pipeline and Texaco from building a pipeline and tank farm and exposing our aquifer to leaks and spills that both companies were notorious for then. What helped sustain me was my extensive corporate experience, which enabled us to exploit Big Oil’s weaknesses until they abandoned the project in 1995.
I was a Leon County Commissioner 1998-2010 and balanced the budget every year, even in the worst years of the George W. Bush recession, with no net increase in taxes. We still managed to improve services, including organizing a new county EMS service, four new branch libraries, improved roads and trails, and new parks and conservation areas. By 2010, Leon had the 4th lowest per capita operating budget of Florida’s 67 counties. I compiled a record of principled independence. I stood up to special interests in defense of neighborhoods and led the enactment of North Florida’s first local human rights ordinance that included LGBT protections.
I’ve worked as a speechwriter since 1974, writing for U.S. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter, for U.S. Senator Ed Muskie, four Cabinet Secretaries, two Sub-Cabinet officials, and myself. I also wrote for the Chairman of Time Inc. in New York City, then returned to Tallahassee to help raise my children and work for the next 27 years as a self-employed writer for several dozen corporate and nonprofit client CEOs. After leaving the county commission in 2010, I worked in Washington, D.C.as speechwriter for Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and HUD Secretary Julian Castro, returning home to Tallahassee in 2017.
I’m married to Esther Moring, a former Army Reserve medic, now a registered nurse and emergency medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders since 1995. I have three grown children.
Finally, I am well known for my sense of humor. In fact, in our senior year, my Florida High School classmates voted me “8th Best Sense of Humor.” (I made this up, they didn’t elect me anything.)