Naples Senator sworn in as 90th Senate President, Senator
Dennis Baxley of Ocala elected President Pro Tempore
Senator Kathleen C. Passidomo (R-Naples) was today unanimously elected President of the Florida Senate for the 2022-2024 Legislative Term. Senator Dennis K. Baxley (R-Ocala) was unanimously elected President Pro Tempore. Pursuant to the Florida Constitution, the Florida Legislature convenes 14 days following the general election for the purpose of organization, election of officers and adoption of rules.
Condensed excerpts from President Passidomo’s acceptance speech are below. Her remarks as prepared for delivery are available here.
“The campaigns are over, and the work starts now. We are the eyes and ears and the voices of our constituents. I assure you we are going to listen to each other’s concerns and incorporate suggestions to make every bill better. But at the end of the day, we each have a responsibility to the voters who elected us, and those voters overwhelmingly support the conservative agenda of fiscal responsibility, protecting parents’ rights, honoring the dignity of work, and expanding education opportunities for our students. That will drive our work for the next two years.”
“One of our first challenges is our response to Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole. Our communities and residents are bound and determined to rebuild stronger and better than ever. The resilience of Floridians is phenomenal. Next month, the Florida Legislature will convene in a special session to address the challenges still facing our state’s insurance market and ensure residents whose homes are uninhabitable get a break on property taxes.”
“I know state government cannot independently fix or outrun the problems caused by inflation, but I believe a focus on safe, attainable workforce housing is one area where we can do our part to support Florida families through these challenging times. This will be a top priority of ours, and I look forward to your input.”
“One of my goals over the next two years is to continue the expansion and to connect the Wildlife Corridor to the Florida Trail System, so that more people across our state and around the world can experience Old Florida at its finest. Florida is already a global destination for outdoor recreation and adventure enthusiasts. Expanding our trail system has the added benefit of connecting our residents and visitors to Florida’s cultural heritage of the small, legacy towns across Florida’s heartland. 50 years from now our children and grandchildren will say that the greatest thing the Florida Legislature did in the 2020’s was the creation of the Wildlife Corridor and the preservation of millions of acres of farmland and ranch land for conservation. It will be our Central Park.”
President Passidomo was nominated by Senator Jay Collins (R-Tampa). Her nomination was seconded by Senator Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee).
During today’s ceremony, President Passidomo was accompanied by her husband of 43 years, Mr. John Passidomo, the First Gentleman of the Florida Senate. The President and Mr. Passidomo were joined by their adult daughters Francesca and Gabriella as well as the First Gentleman’s twin sister, Janet. The President’s father Dr. Alfonse Cinotti, age 99, also attended today’s ceremony, serving as the Senate’s Doctor of the Day.
Many former Senate Presidents, former Senators, friends, colleagues and constituents traveled to Tallahassee to celebrate with the Passidomo family. Given the impacts of the recent hurricanes, many other close friends and community members joined in the celebration by viewing the ceremony remotely on the Florida Channel.
The opening prayer was given by former Senate President Toni Jennings. Our National Anthem was performed by Professor Joel Johnson. Professor Johnson is an Associate Professor of Music Industry and Modern Guitar.
The Presentation of the Colors was led by an all-female color guard, representing officers in many different divisions of law enforcement. Members of the color guard included: Officer Angela Ormerod, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Capitol Police; Lieutenant Whitney Chase, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Lieutenant Jessica Sabo, Florida Highway Patrol; and Detective Jennifer Tordini, Office of The Chief Financial Officer, Division of Investigative & Forensic Services, Bureau of Fire, Arson, & Explosives Investigations.
Video of today’s session, including acceptance speeches by President Passidomo and President Pro Tempore Baxley can be found via the Florida Channel at www.TheFloridaChannel.org.
About President Passidomo
Senator Kathleen C. Passidomo, 69, was elected to the Florida Senate in November 2016 after serving in the Florida House of Representatives since 2010. Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) appointed her to serve as Chair of the Senate Committee on Rules for the 2020-2022 Legislative Term. During the 2018-2020 Legislative Term, she served as Republican (Majority) Leader under former Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton).
Senator Passidomo graduated in 1975 from Trinity College (now University) in Washington, D.C. In December 1978, she received her law degree from Stetson University’s College of Law. She built a law practice around Real Estate and Business Law and has been practicing law in Naples for more than 40 years. Senator Passidomo was in the first group of attorneys in the state to obtain Board Certification in Real Estate Law, and her peers elected her to serve as President of both the Collier County Bar Association and the Collier County Women’s Bar Association.
Senator Passidomo and her husband John married in 1979. Together, they have three adult daughters, Catarina, Francesca, and Gabriella, and two grandsons, William and Emilio.
History of Women Presidents of the Florida Senate
In 1990, Senator Gwen Margolis (D-Miami), a former realtor, became the first woman to serve as President of the Florida Senate. President Margolis retired from the Senate in 2016, concluding more than four decades of elected service in state and local government. She passed away on June 9, 2020, at the age of 85.
In 1986, Senator Toni Jennings (R-Orlando), a former elementary school teacher who later ran her family’s construction business, became the first woman to lead the Senate Republican Caucus, serving as Minority Leader during the 1986-1988 Legislative Term. Elected Senate President in 1996, she is the only person in modern history elected to serve two consecutive terms in the role. She later became the first woman to serve as Lt. Governor. President Jennings, 73, retired from elected office in 2007, upon the conclusion of her term as Lt. Governor. She continues to reside in Central Florida.
Presidents Margolis and Jennings were both inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.