‘Trinidad is a paradise’
By Andre Bagoo Saturday, August 11 2012
click on pic to zoom in
Governor's gift: Lt Governor of Florida Jennifer Carroll presents a book on the US state to Prof Rhoda Reddock, acting principal of the University of ...
TRINIDAD-born Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, 52, who has been identified as a rising Republican politician, yesterday said she may yet return to live in the country of her birth.
Carroll was born in Port-of-Spain on August 27, 1959. She left Trinidad when she was just eight years old in 1966 and had a difficult childhood in the United States (US), being raised by her great-aunt and great-uncle. Years later, in January 2011, she would become the first female and black person elected to the post of Lieutenant Governor.
Many believe Carroll, a Republican, is being groomed for a possible seat in the US Senate (or even elsewhere). She’s tried twice to unseat Democrat incumbent Corrine Brown in the House of Representatives. Frequent appearances in Jacksonville, though, have fed speculation in Florida that she could try a third time. Her trip to Trinidad is viewed by some as an opportunity to hone her political and public-speaking skills, and to test the water so to speak, in a relatively safe environment.
Whatever her political ambitions, the Lieutenant Governor and mother of three has certainly not ruled out returning to the land of her birth, Trinidad. Asked at a short media briefing, hosted by the US Embassy yesterday, if she would retire here, she smiled broadly and said coyly, “Maybe. After all, Trinidad is a land of paradise.”
Carroll, who boasted about a reduction in crime levels at Florida and the boosting of job rates, gave some hints as to what’s gone so right. She said one key element of fighting crime is making sure the people are included.
“A key component in reducing crime is public participation,” she advised. “It’s about getting the public involved. You have to do things which can be done to build public confidence. Trust goes a long way.” Carroll at times appeared confident, with a beaming smile and wearing a tropical-inspired purple and green dress and large chunky gem earrings. Only rarely did she fumble in speaking, saying at one point, “and there was something else I wanted to say but I can’t remember.”
When she was photographed at the second floor of Briar Place, Sweet Briar Road, St Clair, she joked, asking one photographer with a smile, “Did you get my best side?” then added, “No just kidding!”
Carroll has been on a tour of Trinidad and Tobago ostensibly to encourage trade between this country and Florida stemming from a public/private initiative from a Florida chamber of commerce called Enterprise Florida, based at Orlando. She yesterday reported that her trip has seen talks between businesses in the sectors of: solar panel manufacturing; financial services and “the medical supply sector”. She said at least one firm was going to submit a request for proposal for one project, but said she could not remember any of the details of the deals.
She noted there are about 40,000 Trinidad and Tobago nationals residing in Florida and that about 70,000 people from this country visit the state annually. She mentioned meeting National Security Minister Jack Warner, a key local politician, earlier this week, with whom she discussed “criminal investigations” but did not specify the nature of these talks. She’s already rubbed shoulders with most in the Cabinet, including Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran and Trade and Industry Minister Vasant Bharath.
Questions from reporters at yesterday’s briefing, which was billed as a “media roundtable” with Carroll, were abruptly cut short by an unnamed official.
Who is Jennifer Carroll?
Carroll was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on August 27, 1959.
She has a military background and enlisted in the US Navy in 1979. After serving as an Aviation Machinist Mate (Jet Mechanic), she was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Programme, becoming an Aviation Maintenance Officer in 1985. She retired from the Navy in 1999 as a Lieutenant Commander, meaning she was already a Lieutenant before becoming Lieutenant Governor.
Carroll is a member of the Clay County Republican Executive Committee. In 2000, she was appointed as Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs by Republican Governor Jeb Bush and served in that post until July 2002.
Republican President George W Bush appointed Carroll to the Commission on Presidential Scholars from 2001 to 2004, and then a seat on the Veterans’ Disability Benefits Commission from 2004 to 2007.
In 2000, she ran for a seat in the US House of Representatives in the Florida’s third congressional district. Incumbent Democrat US Congresswoman Corrine Brown defeated Carroll 58 percent to 42 percent. After redistricting, Carroll ran for a rematch against Brown in the newly redrawn third district in 2002. Brown defeated her 59 percent to 41 percent.
In both elections, Carroll ran more strongly than Republicans usually poll in the area. Carroll’s husband is Nolan Carroll and her children are Necho, Nyckie and Nolan Carroll II. Nolan Carroll II is a member of the popular Miami Dolphins American football team.