Youngest Elected Florida Official Reflects on Time at USF

TAMPA, Fla. – The youngest elected official in Florida is inspiring students at his alma mater to become part of the democratic process. Danny Burgess became a city councilmember in Zephyrhills as an 18-year-old freshman at USF. Not too long after being on the city council, he ran for mayor of the town and was elected.

Credit: Natalie Eiland

“USF, I really credit with inspiring me to serve and to run when I did,” Burgess said.

After graduating from USF with a degree in political science, Burgess attended Barry University School of Law in Orlando. He graduated with his law degree and then commissioned in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps program of the U.S. Army Reserve as a first lieutenant.

Credit: Natalie Eiland

He continues to serve in the Army as the rank of captain. Burgess was also a personal injury attorney on top of his Army duties. In 2013, Burgess decided to run for mayor of Zephyrhills.

In 2014, Burgess began his first year as a Florida House Representative. He won the Republican primary unopposed, but in the general election, he faced retired social studies teacher, Beverly Ledbetter. She was endorsed by the Tampa Bay Times, but Burgess won 60 percent of the total votes.

Being a husband and a father of three young children, Burgess can find being in politics extreme challenge at times.

“Politics today is rather nasty, I don’t think it ever hasn’t been, but it seems like it might just be getting worse and worse,” said Burgess. “I try to rise above that and I strive to because I don’t ever want to become a part of that problem, and they don’t want their daddy being a part of that.”

Regardless of any of the negative sides of politics, Burgess focuses on the positive and the good he can teach his children. Family is No. 1 on his priorities list no matter what. His wife, Courtney, and children, Addie, Danny III and Nora all travel with him during his session in Tallahassee.

“Every night I get to go home, to the home we rent in Tallahassee, I have my family there. We stick together.”

Burgess is passionate about helping veterans when they return home from war. He believes those who suffer from mental health issues and substance abuse from combat deserve to have any treatment they need when they get home, so they can enjoy time with their own family and loved ones.

“We owe it to the heroes of the past to build a better future. Each day is a new opportunity to serve.”

Credit: Natalie Eiland