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Friday, October 15, 2021

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s gubernatorial candidacy throws UF Law Board of Trustees seat into question

On June 1, Fried announced her campaign for Florida governor

Graphic by Alex Brown
Graphic by Alex Brown

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried’s appointment to UF Levin College of Law’s Law Center Association Board of Trustees is now shrouded in uncertainty. 

On June 1, Fried, a UF alumna, announced her long-awaited candidacy in the 2022 Florida gubernatorial election. In addition to running against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — who boasts a 55% approval rating as of May 12, according to a poll released by the Florida Chamber of Commerce  — she will also face Democratic front-runner Charlie Crist.

Although Fried’s road to the governor’s mansion will prove a formidable task, the prospect of her potential election has prompted UF Law to consider the future of her appointment to the Board of Trustees. 

“This is new territory for us. If she is elected, we will consult with her and the board’s leadership on possible options moving forward,” Senior Director of Development & Alumni Affairs Michael Farley wrote in an email. 

She will start her five-year term on July 1 with a group of 16 other new members invited to join the UF Law LCA Board of Trustees in 2021. Among Fried’s new member cohort is Stephanie Mickle, the CEO of Mickle Public Affairs Agency and daughter of Stephan P. Mickle — the first Black UF undergraduate alumnus and second to graduate from the Levin College of Law.

As a Democratic candidate in the gubernatorial race, Nikki has remained a vocal advocate for the protection of LGBTQ+ rights and reform of gun laws. Fried has also pointed to her position as Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services — the only Democrat elected statewide in 2018 — as a main selling point of her campaign.

Before becoming the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Fried started her lifelong career in Florida politics at UF. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and juris doctor’s degrees in political science, political campaigning and law from UF.

“As a proud alumna of @UF’s Levin College of Law @UFLaw, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve on the LCA board and give back to the #GatorNation,” Fried wrote in a tweet. 

Beyond being a triple Gator alumna, Fried also served as the 2002-2003 Student Body president and was a member of Florida Blue Key. 

As a financial support organization formed in 1960, the UF Law LCA currently has 79 active members and 153 Emeritus members — a position earned after a member has served their five-year term. 

The LCA Board of Trustees assists UF Law’s budgetary process, providing financial resources and managing mentorship programs for students.

“We are grateful for the support of our LCA, which routinely supports admissions and career development initiatives in addition to helping with fundraising appeals to the alumni population,” Farley wrote.

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Nominations to the LCA Board of Trustees are encouraged throughout the year and are discussed at monthly meetings by the LCA Membership Committee. The entire LCA advisory board considers the nominees each August and January — ultimately crafting a list of new members to be voted on in May. 

Fried joins a long list of notable active members of the LCA Board of Trustees, including Ashley Moody, Florida’s Republican attorney general. Fried confronted Moody earlier this year about her involvement as a board member of an organization that sent robocalls urging people to participate in the march that led to the Capitol insurrection.

If Fried is elected as governor on November 8, 2022, she would be the first Democrat to take the office since former Gov. Buddy MacKay’s 24-day governorship from 1998 to 1999. Fried would also be the first woman to become governor of Florida — an achievement that would mirror her success as the first female Student Body president at UF after a nearly 20-year-long stint of male presidents.

Contact Makiya Seminera at mseminera@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @makseminera.

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