Ben Diamond represents District 68 in the Florida House of Representatives. First elected in 2016, Diamond was reelected in 2018 and was recently elected to serve as Leader designate for the Democratic Caucus by his colleagues in the House. A native of Pinellas County, Diamond returned to the area in 2011, after receiving his bachelors degree from Yale University, and subsequently his law degree at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. During that time, Diamond also worked in Tallahassee for Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink's administration, serving as General Counsel for Sink and the Florida Department of Financial Services. Ben currently practices law in downtown St. Petersburg, where he lives with his wife, Christina, and three children, Frankie, Vera and Adele.
Years in St. Pete
Born and raised in Pinellas County, moved back in 2011.
Organizations involved in
Leadership Florida, Pinellas County Urban League, Temple Beth-El, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. Previously served as the City of St. Petersburg Citizen Representative on PSTA.
What gets you out of bed every day?
First, it’s my little children. We have a son, Frankie, he’s 7. We have twin girls, Vera and Adele, who are a year and a half. Vera wakes up very early, 5-5:30. So she gets me out of bed. You get out of bed because you love your children. But really in terms of the motivation of what gets me out of bed every morning, it’s my love of public service and my love for this community. I’m privileged to have the opportunity to be pursuing work serving a place I care deeply about, and a community I care deeply about. That is the most rewarding work, far more rewarding than I ever thought imaginable.
Why St. Pete?
There’s no city in America I would rather live in than St. Petersburg and I mean that. Growing up here in Pinellas County, St. Pete was sleepy, St. Pete was shutting down at 9 o’clock at night. Now, St. Pete is the antithesis of that. We are the place where everyone wants to be. I love our creative culture, our arts, our restaurants and our craft beer scene. I love our waterfront parks. I love everything about this city and we are very fortunate to live here in our little slice of paradise.
What is one habit that you keep?
I exercise every morning and read something for fun every night. I take time, you need a little time in life for yourself. And we’re all busy. I have three little kids and two jobs, so I enjoy running or swimming in the Northshore pool in the morning. And I like reading at night. I like reading novels and fiction. Not super exciting or destructive, but if my mother is listening, she’ll be happy with that answer.
Who are some people that influence you?
I’ve been very influenced by my family and I’ll speak to that. My love for public service comes from my grandfather, Dante Facell, who had a huge influence on me when I was growing up. He served in the Florida House of Representatives and went on to represent Florida in the United States Congress. He represented Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys in the United States House. Even though I grew up here in Pinellas County, I would drive down with my family several times a year for his different campaign events and followed his public work. He was able to accomplish an enormous amount of good for our state and nation in his tenure in public office. He served in Congress for 38 years. It was a little different time in that era in Washington. People got along, they worked together, they tried to solve problems. But he was a big influence on me.
I would also say my mother. I practice law with my mom. She has influenced me in terms of her love for our profession. Her love for our community. And my father, he’s since passed away, but my dad was a pediatrician here in St. Petersburg for his career and was a member of the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board for years, had a passion for this place and a passion for children’s health.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I’m trained as a lawyer and I have come to value the importance of preparation. I don’t like to wing it. I think that people who accomplish great things in whatever they’re seeking out to do are usually working hard at preparing. I believe in that. I take the time in my legislative work to print everything, to read everything, to ask people’s opinions, to go back and ask other people’s opinions, and to come into meetings and discussions prepared. I really believe in the value of preparation.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
I first got elected to my position in November 2016, and I have come to really appreciate the importance of personal relationships and actually being face to face with people. So much of our lives now, we are looking down at our phones and there is so much information on our phones it’s overwhelming, and we are sucked into social media and retweeting and reposting. When we’ve been able to accomplish good things for our community through our public work in our office, it’s because we’ve taken the time to say, let’s go talk about this together, let’s go sit down at Kahwa or meet for lunch. Even with people that have a totally different political perspective or personal perspective on an issue, it’s amazing how important that is to actually sit down and build personal relationships with people and actively listen. The listening also gets lost in the social media world that we’re in now.
As you can tell from our discussion, I love public service and I love this city and this community and I want to keep trying to serve it. I think there are many different types of leaders in our community and you’ve interviewed so many of them, but all of them that I’ve interacted with, the most effective of them have that model of servant leadership, where it’s not about self-promotion, it’s about the a love for the work they’re doing and the value that it brings to other people.