When Greg Steube returned from active military service in July 2008, his stateside mission quickly became clear: Do what he can to stop the tremendous spending and increasing taxation evidenced in the Legislature.
The 31-year-old Republican knew it was time to follow the dream he’s had since high school and finally venture into politics.
“I want to do what I can to improve people’s lives, and I think the best way to do that is (through) policy,” Steube says. “You have a broader affect on people’s lives.”
Steube, an associate with the law firm of Najmy Thompson, P.L., says his interest in politics began in high school, long before his father, Brad, became Manatee County sheriff in April 2007.
He’d gained an interest in agriculture after moving to the East County in the sixth grade, when the land east of Interstate 75 was virtually untouched by anything but cattle. Through his work with the FFA and 4-H organizations, he realized he desired to work in the cattle industry and took opportunities to work at cattle ranches before graduating high school.
He pursued that interest at the University of Florida, earning a degree in animal science with a minor in agricultural law. It was there he also began to try his hand in the political arena, piloting an internship program with the Legislature through the school’s agriculture department.
His education and experiences within the agricultural industry have given him great insight into the needs of one of the state’s major industries, he says.
With increases in property taxes and intangible taxes (taxes on items such as equipment) and plenty of interplay between state and federal laws, individuals in the agricultural industry are facing many challenges that need to be addressed carefully, Steube says.
“Agriculture is one of the three pegs of the stool Florida’s economy sits on,” Steube says. “I think it’s very important the state has elected officials with a background in agriculture.”
With his political ambitions in mind, Steube entered law school at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law after completing his undergraduate studies. But the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks reshaped Steube’s vision further and he enlisted in the U.S. Army, spending one year in the infantry and three years in the Army JAG Corps.
Steube says his recent experience in the military and as an Iraqi war veteran have helped shape the leadership skills he needs to lead the East County and the rest of the district, as well as to handle stress and to multitask.
“(The military) gives you an excellent understanding of how bureaucracy works,” Steube adds. “I think that’s a very good experience to have. My background is balanced.
“It’s clear from my background what I’ve done,” he says. “You can follow me with a pencil.”
With longtime state Rep. Ron Reagan finishing up his final term in office, Steube says the timing couldn’t be more perfect for him to push forward, especially considering the dangerous shift he was seeing on the political forefront — one of tremendous spending and increasing taxation.”
“As soon as I came back (from Iraq), it kind of all came together (for me to run for office),” Steube says. “The growth you have seen of our government is extremely troubling. The government should not be involved in every aspect of people’s lives. My philosophy is less government, less regulation and more freedom. (That’s) the way our country is going to be successful.”
Steube says legislators must stay focused on improving the economy. He supports the growth of Port Manatee, which will be an economic catalyst for the area, and he hopes to have funds reallocated here for technical training and job employment.
He also supports Medicaid reimbursement, but noted the future of healthcare is in limbo until Congress finalizes changes to America’s current health care system.
Regardless, it will be critical to recruit good, young doctors to the area as many local physicians prepare to retire. Steube says he’s already been working with the Manatee Medical Society and local physicians to develop a plan to address that issue.
Steube says he can’t predict what the most pressing issues will be at the time of primary election in August 2010, but he says for now, at least, it’s important to focus on small business growth and development.
The government, he says, should not get more money to create jobs, but rather the state should create an environment in which businesses can thrive.
“We need to do a better job as a state attracting small business and getting businesses to come here. We need to do what we can to foster that — through incentives and beneficial tax structures for small businesses, for example.”
Growth, he says, creates jobs and will help stimulate the economy.
Steube currently serves on the legislative committee of Manatee Chamber of Commerce. Early on in his campaign, he’d already earned endorsements from figures such as U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, current District State Rep. Ronald Reagan, state senators Mike Bennett and Nancy Detert and locals such as former Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells and Manatee County commissioners Donna Hayes, Ron Getman and Larry Bustle, among others.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].