The only Democrat to hold a statewide office in Florida beginning next month will count on a family member to help organize her inaugural events. Agriculture Commissioner-elect Nikki Fried announced Wednesday that her sister, Jenni Shaffren, will serve as co-chair of her inaugural committee. The other co-chair is Ben Pollara, a Miami-based political consultant who was a senior advisor to Fried’s campaign.
“I could not be more honored to be a part of my sister’s inauguration,” stated Shaffren, “Nikki is a tremendous inspiration to me, my 9-year old daughter – who adores and idolizes her Aunt Nikki – and to women and girls throughout our state. This is an incredible moment for our family, but also for the people of Florida, who I know Nikki will serve with the same level of commitment and integrity that I have always known her to have.”
Stephanie McClung will serve as Fried’s executive director of the inauguration. McClung served as Senior Finance Advisor to the Fried campaign.
Fried has been meeting with current Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and his staff laying the groundwork for the transition.
“We’ve talked a number of times,” said Putnam after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting and before a scheduled meeting with Fried. “We’ve got two of her transition personnel embedded in our office.”
The agriculture commissioner has a variety of jobs to oversee. The department also is responsible for consumer services, the issuance of concealed weapons permits, food safety, forestry and the inspection of gasoline pumps, just to name a few.
“It’s a big job with a range of responsibilities and I know she’s going to do a fantastic job. She’s going to have the respect from the folks around her who want to make sure she succeeds, just as they did for me eight years ago. I’m forever grateful for that.”
Heading up finance for Fried’s Inaugural Committee are longtime Democratic strategists and activists, Mitchell Berger, Kelly Cohen, Jodi Bock Davidson, Justin Day, Sean Pittman, Heather Turnbull and Stephanie Grutman Zauder.
“When Nikki is sworn into office, she will do so as a leader that all Floridians can count on, and who will follow through on the promises of her campaign,” Pollara said. “From January 8th on, Nikki will fight every day to expand access to medical marijuana, protect our clean water and beaches, and ensure concealed weapons permits are issued responsibly. I am thrilled to be part of a dynamic, diverse group of Floridians who will help welcome her into office.”
Honary co-chairs for Fried’s Inaugural Committee include U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, state Senator Audrey Gibson, state Representative Kionne McGhee, and Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo.