The Tommy Jardon Interview
TR: As I recall you were in a class with me (and Becca Guerra) during the triumphant Spring 2004, I also remember working with you on a certain project over the summer, but what were you upto Fall 2004? What happened that Fall that somehow saw you as a top dog in the following Spring Impact Party?
TJ: The person that got me involved in Sg in the first place was Lowell Wong. Lowell had been in SG at USF, transferred up and was actually a greek (don't remember which house). I knew Lowell through College Republicans sicne he was an active member and he repeatedly tried to get me involved. Even before then I would have to say that my first exposure to SG was during the Spring of 2004 when I put together a debate between Jamal and Scott. It got me introduced to Andre Samuels, Mike Schuster and a whole cast of characters I wouldn't know better until later that same summer.
The project over the summer you mention was the first push toward Online Voting in a long string of recent efforts. I became involved in that again, in part, because of Lowell Wong but also because one of my better friends at the time was Ignite Senator, Theta Chi, and chair of Allocations, Brian Gibson. Brian, Lowell, and I were all having lunch together at Wendy's on campus when the topic of the committee came up. They asked me if I'd even be willing to chair the committee since I was an outsider and, believe it or not, rather impartial at the time. Long story short, I just ended up helping on the committee (including Andrew Hoffman, Becca Guerra, Adam Roberts, and one Christian Duque).
Over the fall I fell into Bush-Cheney responsibilities and so saw my Sg involvement decrease. Once we came back for the Spring, however, and the Access name had been taken by FBK, Lowell invited me back in to help the then-named Phoenix Party and Dennis Ngin win the Spring election. I was strictly an advisor then. Even so, the following day i received a call from Fall Access Senator Laura Gonzalez "guaranteeing" me a CLAS senate seat from none other than Joe Goldberg. I declined, my lost was cast with the indies, and the rest is history.
When Elda Auxiliare and Diane Kassim ditched, Ally Cullin and I along with David Meyrowitz, Nick Campiz, RJ Peterson, Becca White, Andrew Hoffman, Kevin Bacon and John Malanchuk took the reins of what was left.
TR: Back in the day, which name did you prefer for Dennis & Co.: Phoenix, Unite, or Impact & why? Is it true that the Impact name was created at the Lambda Chi house as a joke involving a certain sexual act?
TJ: - When I walked into my first meeting of the Phoenix Party at Jessica Goodwin's apartment, the first thing I was asked was, "When you hear the word 'phoenix' what do you think?" I said, "giant, flaming bird." And the name was effectively scrapped from then on. We spent the better part of the next week combing through dictionaries and thesauri for different words with both punch and meaning. At the end of the week, we were all so delirious that heading into the party convention (where the name would be voted on and decided) we all acceded to Robert Mack's suggestion that we call it the Support Party. I'm not going to try and do it justice; you'll have to ask Mack for that.
At the party convention, however, a young man by the name of Robert Agrusa proposed we use the name Impact. The "delegates" attending thought it was a great idea, attempts to redirect their opinion were fruitless and the final vote yielded the name Impact.
I never heard the Lambda Chi rumor until just now - clever though.
TR: When the dust cleared and the numbers were announced Spring '05, Impact was trailing Gator considerably, hardly reason for Dennis to proclaim the party #1. So, when Voice endorsed Impact but the Progress' leadership remained almost deceptively neutral when addressing it's members, how'd that make you feel as the Impact leader? We all know that Voice & Progress kids were indies, what were you thinking when the leaders of Progress did nothing to publicly support your candidates?
TJ: - We were furious to say the least. There were all sorts of rumors and conspiracy theories about Mackenzie being bought off by Joe for one thing or another (FBK among them). To date, I'm not sure what the reason for his silence was. I don't think it was malicious or meant to sabotage Dennis. My own opinion is that Mackenzie just thought it wasn't Progress's place to endorse anyone; their supporters were smart enough to decide on their own.
TR: In regards to the Fall 2005 election, my sources say that bi-partisan control of the Opposition Party worked well for the most part, but that by Spring 2006 you were forced out by Adam Roberts from the major decision-making-end of the Executive. Did you in fact abandon your post in the Unite! Party Executive over inability to properly communicate and work with Adam Roberts?
TJ: I characterize the power structure in the Fall '05 campaign as a triumvirate (a word that literally means "three men" in Latin - interpret that as you will). Ally and Adam negotiated the terms of the Impact-Progress marriage (referred to amicably by those of us involved at that point as Propact). Once they agreed that we would take the Impact name, mostly because we were more pigheaded then than Adam and Susan, we all got together and set about the campaign. There was always a tension between the Impact and Progress kids. I think the fact that the Impact name was used had a lot to do with that. It made us, the Impact kids, feel like we had a majority stake in a party that really much more closely resembled Progress. Adam threatened to quit weekly but we managed and got 6 senators elected, a Fall record for an opposing Indie party.
After the election, with Ally now occupying the position of Impact Party leader in Senate, it upset the balance. Our senators were dissatisfied with her leadership in chambers and would fall back to Adam with their complaints. I found myself playing mediator more and more often between Adam and Ally for their frequent disputes. Amidst the pains of figuring out how to create a permanent Indie party the task fell to us to choose between John Boyles and Jared Hernandez. This is what eventually split me from the party.
After interviewing both (under rather awkward circumstances) we decided that John was a Greek in Indie clothing and that Jared was actually a greek with a soul, we decided on Jared. At that point, I started taking my orders from Jared. And there were some things I did under Jared's orders, which I agreed with, that Adam didn't appreciate (such as calling Joe Goldberg and letting him know that Impact had chosen Jared over John). The breaking point came after the Alligator's David Cohen asked me the question and I said yes, I support Jared and so does Impact. Adam second guessed me in print. < http://www.alligator.org/pt2/051202potentials.php>
Shortly thereafter I renounced all claim to party leadership for the Spring and returned to where I started in College Republicans
TR: In regards to the Unite! campaign, were there any efforts by yourself, Adam Roberts, or the MVP bloc to suppress Access Party President, Fmr. Sen. Ansell Fernandez from putting forth the idea of running Herenandez under the Yellow & Blue flag. Why was the name Access rejected for the name Unite!?
TJ: I actually don't know why they didn't run under the Access name and had no idea Ansell was still involved. I had checked out well before the name Unite was even mentioned once. I left Impact, I never attended a Unite exec meeting.
TR: Final direct question on Unite! Is it true that you and a select few from Impact/Progress met several times (or even a single time with John Boyles, with sole purpose of recruiting him to your side for a presidential run?
TJ: Yes. We met with both of them as Impact at that point. We even had several meetings. I must say that I was very enthusiastic about the possibility of running John Boyles, a qualified Indie (an unheard of thing) for SBP. John's fall from grace came when he admitted to those of us present at our meeting with him that in order for him to win, he had to make deals with the greeks. This was an untenable position for me. No deals with the greeks or FBK could be made. Jared refused to make such deals and told them so directly. Hence the Indies ran a Greek and the Greeks ran an Indie.
TR: have never been fond of using rogues as Indie candidates, you know this very well, but my next question involves party loyalty. Insofar as Indie politics go, I think we can all agree that Impact-I/P/V-Unite-Action has been the natural progression of major indie parties. This having been said, how loyal and/or supportive was Dennis to Jared and Jared to Chris? Or do your rogue candidates go back to the FBK side once they get trounced on?
TJ: Dennis wasn't around for Unite, so I don't know what his thoughts were. But I know that Action was looked on favorably by both Dennis and Jared. The only person that has ever truly turned from the Indie cause has been Lindsay Johns, but that's more out of a personal love for John Boyles than anything else I think. She always took umbridge to my assertion John had sold out; she only followed John's footsteps last Spring.
TR: Chris Chase served as a director of Gator Growl (an event that many hardline Indies believe has marred the A&S Budget for years and is nothing more than a remnant of FBK's Good Ole Boy Network), yet he was the Indie frontrunner? And Action didn't even make a secret of it, it was right there on the main page? A little brash wouldn't you say?
TJ: Yes. The fact he was a Gator Growl director speaks to his qualifications and experience as a leader. Whether or not Growl should get the help it does from SG is a different topic those of us who are Indie have not changed our opinion on.
TR: What are your views and/or impreesion of President Boyles? Man of the people? Slave to the Greeks? FBK Puppet? Vague? & Why.
TJ: Ahh, John Boyles. Tool. Enough said. He is the most ineffective, insecure, and pitiful representative of the Student Body I have seen or heard of in my time at UF. He has only his own ambition at heart. He is not afraid to lie, cheat, or bargain for power. And the most dangerous thing is that where others would admit they stop at little-to-nothing (think Marc Adler, Joe Goldberg) John denies it to everyone's face in exchange for the usual bullshit about only wanting to be a preacher in North Carolina. My ass.
TR: What purpose or accomplishment do you see in the race of Nina DeJong and why did you lose Kevin Bacon this term? Seems Sen. Bacon has been with you from Impact to Unite and back, how come he left your side this time around? And would Nina be a name on the top of Action lists for a possible V.P. slot in the Spring?
TJ: I think Nina ran for her own reasons, I never bothered questioning her or her supporters about it. it was evident enough they saw being a woman as enough of a qualification to hold office. More power to them. I never asked Kevin why he helped her. I'm not big on catering to individual needs or egos. If people offer their opinions, I'm happy to listen and always try to adopt every good idea that comes my way. But I won't sacrifice what I deem to be a good idea for the sake of forced consensus and inefficiency.
TR: We often hear about names of folks that would be great president, I know myself I've named both Gavin Baker & Ryan Nelson, but let me ask you this, what are your thoughts on Andrew Hoffman? A law school colleague of yours, Standing Committee Chairman, fmr. CLASC President, heavily active w/ Impact and well-liked pretty much by all who interact with him. What qualities do you see in Andrew and why (or why wouldn't he in your opinion) make for a stellar frontrunner in 2007?
I think Andrew would tell you Law school is enough of a drag on time as it is. I think in order to run for something like SBP you have to want it. Ambition and desire are the best motivators to go out there and campaign 24/7 as you have to in order to win. If Andrew wants it, I think he'd make a great SBP. If he doesn't want it but still chooses to run...he's bound to face a much tougher battle.
TR: I think my time has come and gone. I help as far being able to provide institutional wisdom for the Indie movement. We don't have an FBK alumni base from which to draw on for the purposes of knowing what works and what doesn't. I stick around to help those who deserve to take up the baton. I'm afraid that if I run I'll be crowding out the next generation of Indie leaders we need in order to unseat the dirtbags in there now.
TR: What is Florida Blue Lightning? And what motivating factors present you with the desire to resurrect Blue Key (not FBK) on campus?
TJ: Florida Blue Lightning started out as a joke name for an organization founded solely for the purpose of securing tabling permits and such for our planned petition drives. That idea eventually turned into using it as a Student Advocacy group outside of the framework of an SG political party since it might otherwise be construed as campaigning according to the 700 codes. I think you've seen the last of FBL.